Since 1992, 40 restoration projects have been funded in and around New Bedford Harbor, a major commercial fishing port and industrial center in southeastern Massachusetts.
Electrical parts manufacturers polluted New Bedford Harbor with highly toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and metals from the 1940s to the 1970s. The contamination limited breeding and killed marine life throughout hundreds of acres of the estuary. Some species disappeared completely from areas of high contamination. The economic impact was severe, including long-term fishing closures, the loss of beach use, diminished property values and reduced opportunities for coastal development.
When hazardous substances enter the environment, fish, wildlife and other natural resources can be injured. The Service, other Department of the Interior agencies, and state, tribal and federal partners, act as “trustees” for these resources. The trustees identify the natural resources injured, determine the extent of the injuries, recover damages from the responsible parties and lead restoration of the area.