The slip, located across the street from the Waterfront Grill, was used as a manufactured gas plant from the 1800s through 1950. A byproduct of the plant’s manufacturing methane ethylene and hydrogen gas, the plant would dump coal tar onto the floor of the harbor.
The contamination was discovered more than 50 years after the plant closed when the Coast Guard noticed an oil sheen in the harbor that was bubbling up from under the sediment in the slip. The slip is currently owned by Sprig Electric, which will receive the Nicholas Humber Environmental-Energy Award for Outstanding Collaboration along with NStar, which carried out the remediation, and city, state and federal environmental protection organizations.
“This project is a great example of both collaboration and innovation,” President and Executive Director of the Environmental Business Council Daniel Moon said. “So many entities were involved in this project, they had to cooperate to get it done in a timely fashion.” Last summer, crews worked to clean the outer slip of coal tar and put the waste into the 18,000-square-foot inner slip, which was then filled in with concrete. NStar Spokesman Mike Durand said the cleanup was completed quickly because of a faster than usual permitting process and was made easier by the collaboration. “Everyone needed to be on board and they were,” he said.
Now, the outer slip is clean and used by ships, while the inner slip, covered with gravel, has been used by sea gulls to smash their shells. In addition to paying for the mitigation of the slip, NStar donated money to the Army Corps of Engineers and is helping fund a city project that will increase the amount of wetlands at the Rivers End Park.
Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Edmund Coletta said the award highlights the importance of collaboration in remediation efforts.
“All the parties came together to come up with a solution that worked for everyone,” he said. “We got it done and we got it done right, for all the parties, but also for the environment, too.”
By Ariel Wittenberg
New Bedford Standard-Times
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