Bedford Harbor, MA
Site History: Chronic releases of hazardous
Bedford Harbor, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts.
Case status: Natural resource damage assessment (NRDA)
settlement in 1992 for 20.2 million.
Bedford Harbor is a major commercial fishing port and industrial
center in southeastern Massachusetts on Buzzards Bay. From the 1940s
to the 1970s, electrical parts manufacturers discharged wastes
containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and toxic metals
into New Bedford Harbor, resulting in high levels of contamination
throughout the waters, sediments and biota of the Harbor and parts
of Buzzards Bay. Hundreds of acres of marine sediment were highly
contaminated. One location contained the highest concentrations of
PCBs ever documented in a marine environment.
Biological effects of the contamination include reproductive impairment and death of marine life throughout
the estuary, along with loss of marine biodiversity in areas of high
contamination. The economic impact was severe, due to long-term fishing
closures, lost beach use, diminished property values, and reduced opportunities
for coastal development.