New Bedford Considers Future of Aerovox Site

By Charis Anderson
New Bedford Standard-Times

After almost two years of negotiations, the company responsible for demolishing the old Aerovox mill is on the verge of signing settlement agreements with the city and state and federal environmental agencies that will clear the way for the building to be razed in 2011, officials said.
And while the cleanup of the site at 740 Belleville Ave. will take several years, city officials are already looking to the future and potential development opportunities for the 10½-acre parcel.
“You have to know where you want to go, and (Mayor Scott W. Lang) has been clear that he doesn’t simply want an asphalt cap,” said Matthew Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. “The fully publicly vetted plans will be done well in advance of when the site is fully clean.”
While the city’s plans for the site are still at a conceptual stage, certain elements are likely to be included in the final version: a recreational facility such as a soccer field; open space and areas for public gatherings; parking for the people who work in the neighborhood, according to Morrissey.
“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to provide more recreational space,” Lang said.
But first, the PCB-contaminated mill must be demolished and the site cleaned.
Once the settlement agreements with the responsible party, AVX Corp. of Myrtle Beach, S.C., are effective — a date officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say is still about a month-and-a-half away — a 10-month planning phase will commence, according to Marilyn Wade, a consultant with URS Corp., which was hired by AVX.
Wade spoke about the demolitions plans during a community meeting at the New Bedford Free Public Library last week.
During that initial phase, plans for everything from ensuring the health and safety of workers on the site to monitoring and managing air quality will be developed, Wade said.
The second phase, demolition, will take about 16 months, although the razing of the building will only take about six to eight months, according to Wade.
Once the demolition phase is complete, the site will move into a cleanup phase under the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Massachusetts Contingency Plan, according to Wade.
During that process, which will take several years, additional site assessment will be conducted to determine how to address the remaining site contamination in a long-term way, Wade said.
AVX will be shouldering the cost of the demolition, about $13 million, as well as the costs of any studies and remediation work conducted under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, according to Dave Dickerson, EPA project manager.
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, Dickerson said.
March 01, 2010 12:00 AM
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OUR VIEW: Harbor cleanup to create prime waterfront site, New Bedford Standard-Times
The quick and easy way would have been for New Bedford to agree to having the old Aerovox mill demolished and then the ground capped with earth and asphalt.
That would have helped keep PCBs remaining at the contaminated site on Belleville Avenue from doing more harm.
However, Mayor Scott W. Lang and city leaders have insisted that the corporate entity responsible for much of the PCB contamination in the city’s harbor make the site clean. Therefore, a far more extensive cleanup will be required.
For two years, negotiations with AVX Corp. of Myrtle Beach, S.C., have been taking place, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency expects that the company soon will agree to pay more than $13 million to demolish the building and clean up the 10-plus acre site. Contaminated debris and earth from the demolition will then be hauled to a licensed facility for disposal. The trucking costs would be paid for by the city with federal EPA funds.
It will add some years to the cleanup and make it more expensive, but at the end New Bedford will have a waterfront property that can be re-used.
Matthew Morrissey, the executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, said the city is considering using it for recreation.
The city’s waterfront is one of its greatest assets, but while the public has superb access to the waterfront along the outer harbor in the South End, it is a different story along the inner harbor and the densely populated neighborhoods nearby.
March 02, 2010
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