"A Gritty Problem: New Bedford Built Schools, Homes on Old Dump"

"NEW BEDFORD - Brenda Mattos’s voice rises as she leads a toxic tour of her West End neighborhood.

A block away is the section of the high school lawn that tested high for probable cancer-causing chemicals in April. Behind her house is the tiny church whose expansion plans are on hold because the soil is so polluted. Next door? A vacant house, one of six the city bought in the last year because the property was so contaminated.

'It’s everywhere around me,’ Mattos said as her 3-year-old son gleefully ran around her backyard, where a 2-foot-deep sinkhole mysteriously appeared in June. 'I want out.’

Part of Mattos’s neighborhood stands atop a former 101-acre dump where so much garbage and industrial waste were burned through the 1950s that it left ash 12 feet deep in places. But it wasn’t until workers broke ground for a new middle school five years ago that testing began in earnest to map the dump’s footprint and the extent of toxic contamination."

Beth Daley reports for the Boston Globe August 16, 2009.

Monday, August 17, 2009