Court Approves $366 Million Settlement with AVX Corp. to Accelerate Cleanup of New Bedford Harbor
Settlement will Remedy Contaminated Site in 5-7 Years
BOSTON – Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley issued the following statement on the decision by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts to enter a $366.25 million settlement with AVX Corporation that will expedite the cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination from New Bedford Harbor and achieve cleanup goals within five to seven years, rather than 40 years under current funding levels.
“We are pleased that the federal court has accepted this important settlement to fund and accelerate a proper environmental cleanup of New Bedford harbor,” AG Coakley said. “This decision is an important step for the economic development of the harbor, and will help realize significant public health benefits for the community.”
A joint motion to enter a supplemental consent decree was filed in June with the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. After announcing the settlement with AVX in October, the AG’s Office, along with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carefully reviewed and considered public comments prior to filing the motion.
The “cash-out” agreement with AVX Corp, a total of $366.25 million, plus interest, will be paid to provide more than 90 percent of estimated funding needed to complete the PCB cleanup at the New Bedford Harbor Superfund site. The cleanup includes dredging the PCB sediments and disposing of them at a mix of confined disposal facilities on-site, confined aquatic facilities on the harbor floor, and at off-site facilities.
Prior to the settlement’s approval, EPA has been performing the remedy with close to $15 million of funding per year, including $1.5 million in cost-sharing funds provided by MassDEP. PCBs are suspected carcinogens and have other adverse human health and ecological impacts.
The 18,000-acre New Bedford Harbor Superfund site extends from the Acushnet River estuary, through the City of New Bedford commercial harbor, and into 17,000 acres of Buzzards Bay. The site is adjacent to former Aerovox facility, located along the Acushnet River, which was for decades a manufacturing facility utilizing PCBs for electrical equipment. AVX is a corporate successor to Aerovox Corporation, which operated at the facility from 1938 to 1973.
The settlement with AVX Corp. modifies the joint consent decree entered with AVX in 1992, in which AVX paid $66 million plus interest for response costs and natural resource damages at the site.