Residents win faster cleanup of toxic waste site

May 27, 2014

Map of the Parker Street Waste Site

In February, New Bedford residents battling a hazardous dump site won a big victory when the city withdrew its application to delay a cleanup by two years. The city agreed to speed up the process due to the work of Citizens Leading Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), with support from our Environmental Justice Legal Services program (EJLS) and Licensed Site Professional Ian Phillips of Haley & Aldrich, a volunteer with our Massachusetts Environmental Justice Assistance Network (MEJAN).

Before the withdrawal, we asked the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to reject the application, hold a community meeting on the proposal, and require the city to produce specific and timely plans to clean the site after 12 years of delays. CLEAN members presented evidence that dioxin concentration in the ground exceeds federal safety limits, endangering the health and safety of the people who live, work and study there. However, the city’s application did not mention the presence of dioxin.

Homes, middle and high schools, businesses and churches have been built on the Parker Street Waste Site, which spans more than 140 acres. The exact boundaries of the property and extent of PCB and dioxin contamination has yet to be defined by the City of New Bedford. Some homes have been condemned due to soil contamination and some residents have developed serious illnesses.

“We have one of the top LSPs in the state helping a small dedicated group deal with one of the most complex contaminated sites in the state,” said CLEAN Vice President Tom Derosier, thanking EJLS and Ian for supporting the campaign. “Without ACE, and most importantly Ian's help, we wouldn't be able to see hope in our future.”

Pictured: Parker Street Waste Site map via EPA.