Super Neponset News!
You may have heard the news – on March 14, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced that the Lower Neponset River was added to the "National Priorities List" for Superfund cleanup of PCB-contaminated sediments. This news is "super" in that it helps get things in motion for a long-overdue cleanup of the river – and potential restoration of the river's natural flow with the removal and modification of dams that interrupt the river's natural flow.
Q: Should rowers or a rowing parents be concerned?
It's a natural concern - after all, PCBs are bad stuff. Luckily for us, our friends at the Neponset River Watershed Association have shared some well-researched information that can help users of the river understand the issues. Here's a quick breakdown for rowers and parents – followed by a link to the NRWA's deeper content.
A: There's no reason to be concerned about rowing on the Neponset
While it's natural to have concerns, risk to rowers is close to zero. Here's why:
The majority of PCBs are concentrated above the Baker dam – in an area where we don't row – locked up in sticky mud.
Most PCBs are bound with organic matter in the mud, not floating freely in water. We launch from docks and most rowers have no contact with the mud.
In the rare event that a rower does come into contact with mud, simply washing mud off feet or hands with the on-site hose, followed by a good scrub with soap at home will take care of the issue. Again, PCBs are not freely-accessible due to the strength of their bond with organic substances in mud.
You can additional information on the NRWA site here, including a helpful Q+A (and no, definitely don't eat fish from the river!) as well as information about the EPA's Superfund process and links to more. It's a good read if you're interested.
PCB's are nasty - so why is this super news?
This designation starts a process leading up to a cleanup, involving a deeper study of the contaminated sediments, identification of any potentially responsible parties, and a cleanup process that may start with targeted cleanup actions followed by a comprehensive effort. The EPA also will include opportunities for resident's to become better informed and share their points of view.
The NRC calls the Neponset home, and we're fans of any opportunity to inspire further investment in making the Neponset an even more vibrant resource for wildlife, native plants and area residents alike. We row for a lot of reasons, including fitness and sport, but we also frequently hear from youth and adult rowers that rowing on the Neponset has given them a new appreciation for the beauty of this unique environment – and the importance of protecting it. And that is super news.
Consider joining of volunteering with the NRWA. They are stewards and activists for the interests of the Neponset along its course to the estuary.
Make small changes in your yard that help to protect wildlife – and our waters.
Consider making a donation to support community rowing on the Neponset – keeping the river active helps build the case for the importance of maintenance and restoration.