Restoring the Industrial Waste Site in Massachusetts Bay
In the 1940s, a 2-mile diameter circular ocean site in Massachusetts Bay was defined for waste disposal. Its location was approximately 23 miles from Boston Harbor on the edge of Stellwagen Bank. Known as the Industrial Waste Site or IWS, this spot received construction debris, derelict vessels, munitions, and industrial and chemical wastes. In addition, thousands of sealed containers of low-level radioactive wastes were brought there with the expectation that they would be buried in the soft sediments of the site’s 300-foot depths. Unfortunately, they remained exposed on the sea floor. When disposal stopped in the 1970s, investigations assessed the risk to the environment and humans and resulted in closure to clam harvesting and other fishing restrictions.
As the project to deepen Boston Harbor was planned in the early 2000s, the opportunity to cover the IWS with millions of cubic yards of dredging material was considered. Concerns regarding the exposed containers led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to run a series of tests projects to determine the best approach. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency became also involved. Environmental expert Steve Wolf explains the history of this immense undertaking, which was completed in late 2020.
Drawing from a background in marine science and environmental engineering, Steve Wolf has spent his career addressing environmental issues along New England's coastal areas. He spent over two decades as an environmental consultant working with both governmental and private sector clients, followed by 10 years at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New England District where he focused on environmental management of dredging projects. He recently joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 1 in Boston where his focus is managing ocean dredged material disposal sites along the New England coastline.
This event is presented online by Salem Athenaeum.