By Brian Fraga
After nearly two years of negotiations, a $13 million settlement agreement has been reached that clears the way for the old Aerovox mill to be razed by next year. The Environmental Protection Agency and AVX Corp., which owns the Belleville Avenue lot on which the PCB-contaminated mill is located, announced the agreement Tuesday.
The settlement requires AVX to monitor the air and water at the site, cap it and remove hazardous materials such as asbestos and mercury before the mill is demolished.
Once the mill has been demolished and the property cleaned up to the satisfaction of federal, state and city officials, the 10-acre site will be turned over to the city, according to terms of the agreement.
The Army Corps of Engineers will team with the EPA to inspect and oversee the work.
AVX has assured the state and the city that the site will be cleaned up under the state’s hazardous waste site cleanup program before the property is turned over to the city.
“This highly collaborative settlement ensures that the contaminated Aerovox mill will be safely demolished,” EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spalding said.
“It also represents an active public participation process, a process that is expected to continue,” Spalding said. “EPA looks forward to working with all stakeholders as we move into project implementation.”
Under the project’s time line, the planning, contracting and pre-mobilization activities will take 10 months before any work begins at the site.
After that, it will take six to eight months to demolish the mill, officials said.
The city has been considering several developmental opportunities for the waterfront parcel. Local officials have talked about putting in open space and areas for public gatherings, as well as a recreational facility such as a soccer field and parking for neighborhood residents.
“This is the most important land-based environmental remediation project in New Bedford,” Mayor Scott W. Lang said. “The entire citizenry will benefit for generations to come when the former Aerovox site is cleaned and redeveloped for public use.”
The terms of the agreement stipulate that the site’s contaminated soil and groundwater will be assessed, additional site cleanup and capping needs evaluated, and long-term groundwater monitoring and cap maintenance performed.
State officials said the settlement includes stringent performance standards for the control of dust and potential airborne contaminants, as well as management of dust suppression and water and stormwater runoff.
“Not only will a threat of public health, safety and the environment be removed, but a blighted, under-utilized property along the waterfront will be readied for potential redevelopment,” state Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Gary Moran said.
Acushnet officials had raised concerns about the project’s environmental impact, given the site’s proximity to the town border.
Acushnet Selectman David E. Wojnar said his board will be engaged as the cleanup and development plans move forward.
“We’re happy to see there are safeguards in place, but it is our job as elected officials to make sure that nothing hazardous is released that would be harmful to our neighborhoods,” Wojnar said.
The city of New Bedford will be responsible for transporting the contaminated demolition debris to a federally licensed disposal facility and will use EPA funds to pay for those removal costs, estimated to be $8 million to $10 million, officials said.
April 28, 2010 12:00 AM
By Brian Fraga