Lower Neponset River Named Superfund Site, Clearing Hurdle For Cleaning

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BOSTON (State House News Service) A 3.7-mile stretch of the Lower Neponset River was officially named a Superfund site on Monday, a move officials cheered as a key step in cleaning up the waterway that winds through Milton, Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park.

"Today's action will result in a transformation of the river, improving its ecological health and bringing big benefits to the communities that share the Neponset," Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator David Cash said during an event at Mattapan's Ryan Playground.

The EPA last September proposed adding the portion of the Neponset River to the list of the nation's most serious uncontrolled or abandoned contaminated sites, citing sediment contamination stemming from the former operation of industrial mills and dams built to turn grinding wheels.

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The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in 2015 requested that the river section be added to the Superfund list "as the surface water, sediment, and fish within the Neponset River and Estuary are contaminated with PCBs," according to the EPA.

"Today, we take the first official step toward cleaning up the river and making it safe for our neighbors," U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said. "Like many industrial states, Massachusetts utilized our rivers and our shores as working waterfront. We built communities around our harbors and our riverfront, which in turn powered our economy and created important jobs but at the same time, that development came with the steep price of harmful pollution and contamination and those costs were pushed onto our local communities."

Warren said the state's Congressional delegation will work to ensure federal funding for the cleanup arrives "as soon as possible."

Written by Katie Lannan / SHNS

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