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  • Ben Kaplan

Funding Awarded to Study Natural Resources Impacted by National Firework Site Contamination


May 23, 2022 Ed Coletta 617-292-5737

Baker-Polito Administration Awards Funding to Study Removal of Dams to Benefit Natural Resources Impacted by National Fireworks Site Contamination

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that $410,113 in Natural Resource Damages (NRD) Program grant funding has been awarded to a South Shore watershed association to support feasibility studies for the removal of two dams on the Indian Head River, which will help restore natural resources that were damaged because of operations at the former National Fireworks site in the Town of Hanover. The funds, administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), have been awarded to the North and South River Watershed Association, which will work with the towns of Hanover, Hanson, and Pembroke to evaluate the feasibility of the dam removals and conduct conceptual design.

“The health of our water resources, including the Indian Head River, is a critical priority of the Baker-Polito Administration. We want to ensure these ecosystems are protected so that they can serve as habitat areas for species to live and thrive, and can also offer our communities with climate change resiliency benefits,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “When the Commonwealth’s natural resources are impacted, it is critical that we work with stakeholders to restore the environment, and this project is a first step in compensating the public for the damage that resulted from operations at the fireworks site.”

The two dams, Curtis Crossing Dam and State Street Dam, are both in need of repair. Evaluation of the feasibility of removing the dams will assist the communities and other stakeholders to understand the potential benefits and consequences of removal. Anticipated benefits include water quality and habitat improvements for riverine and migratory fish, including river herring, American shad, American eel, and eastern brook trout, as well as public safety and climate change resiliency benefits. Stakeholder outreach and conceptual design for the two potential dam removals will also be conducted as part of the project.

“For many years, MassDEP has been working with local, state, and federal officials to clean up the Fireworks site,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “This work will begin the process to address the injuries to natural resources, above and beyond what is required as part of the cleanup efforts.”

Funds for this project came from settlement agreements with Tronox Incorporated and affiliated entities lodged with United States bankruptcy courts, which addressed, among other items, injuries to aquatic resources resulting from releases from the former National Fireworks site. Contaminated soils, sediment, and water bodies at and in the vicinity of the site have impacted fish and other natural resources, including the adjacent Factory Pond and the Indian Head River. A total of $6,789,000 was deposited into the Commonwealth’s NRD Trust for natural resource restoration projects that benefit the injured resources. This initial phase of funding is intended to help identify potential restoration projects to be included in a Restoration Plan/Programmatic Environmental Assessment that will be prepared for the site and which will guide restoration implementation.

“Much appreciation to MassDEP and the North/South River Watershed Association for their partnership on this long-term rehabilitation project,” said State Senator Susan Moran (D-Falmouth). “For us to successfully bring our local water ecosystems back to their former glory, we must understand exactly how the region has been impacted by its former use as the National Fireworks site. This funding will also facilitate much needed infrastructure review for the Curtis Crossing and State Street dams, which will shape how we move forward with our environmental preservation efforts.”

For more information on the National Fireworks site, please visit the agency’s NRD grant program webpage.

MassDEP’s mission is to protect and enhance the Commonwealth’s natural resources – air, water and land – to provide for the health, safety and welfare of all people, and a clean and safe environment for future generations. In carrying out this mission, MassDEP commits to address and advance environmental justice and equity for all people of the Commonwealth, provide meaningful, inclusive opportunities for people to participate in agency decisions that affect their lives and ensure a diverse workforce that reflects the communities served by the agency.

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