Ecological Services
Northeast Region
Environmental Contaminants News and Highlights

Black ducks, as well as great blue herons and kingfishers, were impacted by the pollution.
Black ducks, as well as great blue herons and kingfishers, were impacted by the pollution. Credit: Irene Hinke-Sacilotto

Defendants pay $4.25 million settlement for restoring natural resources at Industri-plex Superfund site in Woburn, Mass.

February 27, 2013

State and federal officials have received a $4.25 million settlement from the Pharmacia Corporation and Bayer CropScience Inc. for damages to natural resources at the Industri-plex Superfund site in Woburn, Mass. From the late 1850s to the 1960s, companies manufactured various products at the site, including sulfuric acid, arsenic insecticides, organic chemicals, munitions, and glue. Hazardous substances disposed there degraded wetland, river and lake habitat used by a variety of wildlife, including fish, turtles, amphibians and migratory birds. Trustees will begin developing a plan to use settlement funds for restoring injured resources.


Common Tern, Petit Manan Island, Maine Coastal Islands NWR. Credit: Kirk Rogers/USFWS
Shady Maple Farm, which is now protected through a conservation easement. Credit: Trustees of Reservations

Officials propose projects for Connecticut's second round of Housatonic River settlement funds

February 12, 2013

State and federal environmental authorities propose to use approximately $2 million from the 1999 Housatonic River settlement to fund seven projects that will increase fish habitat, restore marshes and analyze possible stream restoration projects. The public is invited to learn more about the proposal on February 19 at 7 p.m. at the Kent Town Hall. Funding comes from a 1999 settlement with General Electric to restore, rehabilitate or acquire the equivalent of the natural resources and recreational uses of the Housatonic River that were injured by the release of PCBs from the GE facility in Pittsfield, Mass. The original restoration plan, released in July 2009, awarded about $7 million to 27 projects for aquatic natural resources, riparian and floodplain natural resources, and recreational use of natural resources.

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Fact Sheet (PDF - 3.60MB)
Notice of Availability

Quinnipiac River looking west into the Quinnipiac River Gorge, as seen from
Quinnipiac River looking west into the Quinnipiac River Gorge, as seen from "Red Bridge" in South Meriden, CT. Credit: Arthur Dutra IV

Service proposes two projects to restore fish, enhance recreation in Conn.'s Upper Quinnipiac River

January 3, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a draft restoration plan to restore migratory fish and birds impacted by contamination from two Superfund sites in Southington, Conn. The plan proposes to fund two projects, one restoring migratory fish to the upper Quinnipiac River in Southington and Cheshire, and the second maintaining the Quinnipiac River Canoe Trail from Southington to Meriden. Written comments will be accepted through January 31, 2013.

News release

Merganser at Onandaga Lake
Merganser at Onondaga Lake.
Credit: Biodiversity Research Institute

Bats, birds of NY's Onondaga Lake have high mercury contamination

October 22, 2012

The Service's New York Field Office recently released two reports documenting significant mercury contamination in the bats and birds around Onondaga Lake, a Superfund site, meaning a federally designated abandoned hazardous waste site. The reports will help assess damages to the landscape and wildlife, a step in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program.


Volunteers placing freshwater mussels
Volunteers placing oyster, Cumberlandian combshells and snuffbox freshwater mussels into the Powell River. Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, students and other volunteers release mussels in Tenn.'s Powell River

September 27, 2012

The Service, Virginia Tech, Lincoln Memorial University, and several other partners released more than 6,500 endangered mussels on Tuesday into the Tennessee stretch of the Powell River. The release represents the largest recovery effort for the three species, and all were raised at Tech's Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center in Blacksburg, Va. The Powell River is one of the nation's most diverse, with nearly 100 types of fish and 35 types of mussels, but it has long faced threats from pollution. Its restoration has been supported by the Service's Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration program, which uses non-taxpayer funds to restore natural resources damaged by oil spills or releases of hazardous substances.

Blog post, photos and more

Sudbury River wayland

Sudbury River area will benefit from projects funded by natural resources restoration settlement

September 4, 2012

Work will soon begin on 11 projects for the wildlife, people and landscape of the Sudbury River watershed, state and federal officials announced today. The projects will be supported by the $3.7 million settlement reached in 1998 by parties for natural resources harmed by mercury and other contaminants from the Nyanza Chemical Superfund site in Ashland, Mass. Funds are allocated in the final restoration plan and environmental assessment for the Sudbury River watershed.

News Release
Restoration plan (pdf)

Biologists begin follow-up research on hormones in fish at Vt. refuge

August 27, 2012

Biologists from the Service's New England and Chesapeake Bay field offices deployed equipment at Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge in Swanton, Vt., that will collect valuable information on water quality for the research.

Yellowfin madtoms
Yellowfin madtoms look like miniature catfish but have a stronger sting. Their sensitivity to water quality makes them good indicators of river health. Credit: Conservation Fisheries, Inc. Credit: USFWS

Rare fish released in Powell River

Conservation Fisheries, Inc., released 220 yellowfin madtoms in mid June in Southwest Virginia's Powell River as part of the partnership to restore the river and its wildlife that suffered a coal slurry spill in 1996 that spread more than 20 miles downstream. The madtoms, a threatened minnow-sized fish, will add to the reintroduced population raised in captivity. The efforts are supported by a natural resource damage settlement.

More on the coal slurry spill
More on Conservation Fisheries, Inc.

Federal plan will assess Marcellus shale drilling

U.S. Geological Survey developed a plan to assess impacts of gas exploration and drilling. The Service has helped create the draft, which will be shared with others for additional work later this summer.


Dan Gefell, Scott Schlueter, and Tim Sullivan on the electrofishing boat on Long Pond. Credit: USFWS

Great Lakes contaminants survey underway

The Service's New York Field Office began sampling emerging contaminants last week near the Rochester Embayment Area of Concern. The team collected bullhead, largemouth bass, sediment and water.


Celebrate the restoration of New England's Housatonic River

Experience the Source to Sound paddle trip, an adventure coordinated by the Housatonic Valley Association and other groups to provide educational, historical and cultural programs along the river through Massachusetts and Connecticut. The trip also celebrates the work that has made this river once again accessible to its residents. For more than 40 years, toxic chemicals seeped into the river, contaminating the water and sediment. The hazards reached riverbanks, floodplains, wildlife and even people.

Restoration Program helps citizen scientists explore local wildlife

Some Connecticut communities are taking action to protect their outdoors with the help of Audubon and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By volunteering as citizen scientists, they're helping put little-known, yet vital wildlife areas on the map. Known as vernal pools, these temporary bodies of water are home to many different animals and plants seeking food and a predator-free place to breed and rest.

Photo of Nyanza site
Credit: USFWS

Public invited to discuss restoration of contaminated Massachusetts site

Federal and state agencies encourage the public to attend an information meeting regarding alternatives to restore, replace or acquire natural resources and services harmed by the release of contaminants from the Nyanza Chemical Superfund site in Ashland, Mass. The meeting will be Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Blumer Room of Framingham Town Hall (Memorial Building) at 150 Concord Street. The draft restoration plan and its assessment (PDF-1.98 MB) are available for comment through Jan. 23, 2012.


EC group photo
Credit: USFWS

Researchers meet to discuss future of contaminants

Staff from Service offices across the Northeast met to present and discuss their research, from the effects of Marcellus shale drilling on freshwater mussels to mercury levels of birds and bats at Onondaga Lake, effects of contaminants on American eel reproduction, and restoration activities for piping plover.

Photo of Bob Foley and Kathryn Jahn
Credit: USFWS

New York biologist honored for Hudson River work

Kathryn Jahn with the Service's New York Field Office was honored by the Department of the Interior for leading the assessment and restoration of the Hudson River's natural resources; the river has been polluted since the late 1940s from hazardous substances released by General Electric's Hudson Falls and Fort Edward manufacturing plants.


Service continues to monitor contamination in New Hampshire

The Service completed this year's evaluation of mercury in fish, sediments and water downwind of the Merrimack Power Station. The study will help determine if a desulphurization system at the plant is lowering mercury concentrations in the environment.

Youth Corps cultivates native plants for restoration

The Holyoke Youth Conservation Corps worked this summer with the Service and Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations to restore a forested floodplain in Sheffield, Mass., supported through Housatonic River natural resource damage funding. The crew collected hundreds of seedlings along the river to care for until they are able to be replanted in the restoration area.

Read more.

Photo of location of proposed trail
Location of proposed trail. Credit: USFWS

Restoration begins at Picillo Farm Superfund Site

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Office of Water Resources have awarded about $143,000 to the town of Coventry to restore wetlands through fill removal and invasive species control and to create trails through the 56-acre conservation Sandy Bottom Road Conservation Area.

A worker cleans up oil on Barney's Joy Beach
A worker cleans up oil on Barney's Joy Beach in South Dartmouth following Buzzards Bay, MA, oil spill in 2003. Credit: Donna Dewhurst/NCTC

Public invited to meet on Buzzards Bay oil spill restoration

Informational meetings regarding restoration planning for the 2003 oil spill in Massachusetts will be held on September 21 at Massachusetts Maritime Academy and September 22 at Heritage State Park from 6 to 9 p.m. The Natural Resource Damages Trustee Council invites the public to learn about the development of restoration plans and to offer input on ideas to address the natural resources injured when the Bouchard B-120 barge spilled 98,000 gallons into the bay.

Learn more.

Dupont restoration before and after
Photos before and after restoration along Delaware's Mispillion River. A cooperative settlement in the Dupont Newport Superfund site NRDAR case funded the use of natural materials to protect more than 2,000 feet of eroding shoreline. Credit USFWS

Service releases map of the Northeast’s contaminated sites

The Northeast Region is commemorating the Deepwater Horizon oil spill anniversary by highlighting restoration on contaminated sites across 13 states through an interactive map featured on the new regional Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program website.

Check out the website and map.

Service releases plan to study damage on Virginia river

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commonwealth of Virginia have released a draft Damage Assessment Plan plan detailing how it the agencies will work with other agencies and the science company DuPont to assess the damage caused to South River area wildlife natural resources after two decades of mercury releases from the company's Waynesboro plant.

Read the report. (PDF 850KB)

Spruce No. 1 Surface Mine

Energy development is important for the future of our nation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) works with states, other federal agencies, and industry to provide the best scientific information so that natural resources can be conserved as energy sources are developed.

The Service provided technical assistance to the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate potential impacts of Spruce No. 1 Surface Mine. These comments were based on the Service's responsibility under the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act.

Read the correspondence

USFWS to Environmental Protection Agency- NPDES Permit Letter (July 21,1998)

USFWS Report - Survey of Aquatic Life and Terrestrial Wildlife Habitats, Spruce No. 1 (December 1998)

USFWS to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - CWA 404 Permit Letter (July 29, 1999)

USFWS to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - DEIS Tech Assist Letter (March 20, 2000)

USFWS Report - Salamander Assemblage Survey (August 1, 2005)

USFWS to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Mitigation Plan Letter (December 22, 2006)

USFWS to Environmental Protection Agency - Proposed 404 Permit Restriction Letter (June 2, 2010)

USFWS to Environmental Protection Agency - Section 7 Letter (December 16, 2010)

Biologists and partners release endangered freshwater mussels into the Clinch River in Virginia. Credit USFWS
Biologists and partners release endangered freshwater mussels into the Clinch River in Virginia. Credit USFWS

Mussels released into Virginia river

The Service and partners released endangered freshwater mussels into Clinch River in September 2010. The mussels were bred in captivity as part of the river's restoration plan. A chemical spill in 1998 turned the river a snowy white color and caused significant fish and mussel kills. The area supported three endangered mussels species prior to the spill.

Watch the mussel release video.
Learn more about Clinch River restoration.

Northwest Conservation District Executive Director Jean Cronauer (left center) and Board Chair Curtis Read (right center) explore the property with NOAA Trustee Ken Finkelstein (right) and Robin Blum (left) from the State of Connecticut. Credit: USFWS
Northwest Conservation District Executive Director Jean Cronauer (left center) and Board Chair Curtis Read (right center) explore the property with NOAA Trustee Ken Finkelstein (right) and Robin Blum (left) from the State of Connecticut. Credit: USFWS

Housatonic River restoration begins in Connecticut

A 25-acre floodplain in New Milford, Conn., was permanently protected with Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration funds in November 2010. The Town of Harwinton, Conn., also used settlement funds in December to purchase an easement allowing public access for fishing along the Naugatuck River.

Read more

Last updated: May 22, 2013