For Immediate Release - October 26, 2016

Baker-Polito Administration Awards $81,600 to Mystic River Communities for Environmental Restoration Projects

Funds to Help Restore Water Resources Damaged During 2013 Oil Spill

BOSTON - The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded a total of $81,600 to the Town of Arlington and the City of Medford to support projects that will help to restore natural resources in the Upper Mystic River that were damaged during a tanker-truck fuel oil spill in 2013. The funds, utilizing $55,100 from a settlement between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and J.P. Noonan Transportation, Inc. of West Bridgewater and supplemented by the Commonwealth's Natural Resource Damage (NRD) Trust, will be used to improve water quality in and along the river and reduce riverbank erosion.

"The Mystic River is a community treasure, so it is vital we ensure it is healthy for those who live near it and for the wildlife that rely on it," said Governor Charlie Baker. "When the natural resources of a river are damaged by a spill, the Commonwealth's top priority is to ensure that those resources are fully restored."

"I am proud we could provide the Town of Arlington and the City of Medford with the resources they need to improve opportunities for recreation and habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. "These projects will help to restore the natural environment of the Mystic River for the enjoyment of future generations."

The Town of Arlington has been awarded $47,325 for its Mystic River Restoration Project. The funds will be used to reduce riverbank erosion at an existing outfall along the Upper Mystic River, create a native riparian habitat following input from community groups, and create interpretive materials to increase public awareness along the river.

The City of Medford has been awarded $34,275 to fund its Upper Mystic River Riverbank Restoration and Improvement Project. The funds will contribute to efforts by the city to improve water quality and habitat through the provision of dog waste dispensers and signage, as well as removal of invasive species such as weeds below the water surface.

"It is important that the public have the opportunity to be active on and along the Mystic River, but that's very difficult when the natural resources are degraded by fuel oil," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, the Commonwealth's NRD Trustee. "This work to repair and improve the ecosystem will help the species that rely on its waters and reopen the river for locals to enjoy."

On May 31, 2013, a J.P. Noonan tanker truck overturned on Medford Street in Arlington, sending thousands of gallons of diesel fuel into roadway catch basins and out into the unprotected Mystic River nearby. Emergency responders stretched containment booms across the river to collect the fuel, but it still contaminated water quality and the river bank for more than a half-mile downstream.

"The massive diesel fuel spill into this vital water body could have had disastrous consequences, but first-responders from MassDEP and the local communities were able to prevent some of the damage," said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). "These restoration funds will help local officials take the next step by improving the habitat and bringing local residents closer to this active waterway."

"This spill was extremely unfortunate, as any action of this type has a major impact on an already fragile system," said State Senator Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington). "This money will be put to good use by the Town of Arlington and the City of Medford to restore and rebuild this area of the Mystic River, as well as increase awareness of this valuable resource."

"Since the 2013 oil spill, community members, environmental advocates, and local elected officials have prioritized revitalizing the Mystic River and its surrounding areas, leading to positive changes in the river's overall health," said State Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). "With this financial support, the City of Medford can continue making environmentally-friendly improvements that will benefit the Mystic for years to come."

"In the last two years, I've worked with my colleagues in the legislature, city officials and key local partners like the Mystic River Watershed Association to secure funding to clean up and improve the Mystic River, which has so much potential to be a real success story," said State Representative Christine Barber (D-Somerville). "These additional funds awarded by MassDEP from the oil spill settlement will be an instrumental contribution to the Mystic River's future success."

"We are grateful to the Administration for this award as we, in the City of Medford, continue to work towards improving the Mystic River riverbank," said State Representative Paul Donato (D-Medford).

"Protecting the Mystic River has been a top priority of mine since entering the House of Representatives. I am pleased by the Administration's decision to address the environmental impact of the 2013 spill," said State Representative Sean Garballey (D-Arlington). "By enabling the communities of Arlington and Medford to slow erosion, improve water quality and restore the Mystic River habitat, it is my hope that better infrastructure and visibility will act as a safeguard against future disasters. I look forward to continued improvement of the Mystic River."

"The health of the Mystic River is of paramount importance, not only to the people of immediately adjacent communities, but to the larger region as well," said State Representative David Rogers (D-Cambridge). "I am pleased to see this funding get released, which will help remediate and restore the Upper Mystic."

The majority of the funding for these restoration efforts, $55,100, is provided through the settlement between J.P. Noonan and the Commonwealth's NRD Program. An additional $26,500 has been made available through the Commonwealth's NRD Trust, which is funded from environmental fines and penalties.

The NRD program, which is implemented by MassDEP, assesses the environmental impact from oil and hazardous materials spills and solicits projects to help restore and replace those injured resources.

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.

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