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State taps sites for ‘brownfields’ clean-up assistance

Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray announced Thursday that former industrial sites in Hyde Park, ­Amesbury, Fitchburg, Ludlow, and New Bedford have been ­selected for clean-up assistance from the state’s brownfields support team.

Murray and Governor Deval Patrick launched the team in 2008 to aid in the cleanup of some of the state’s most complex former industrial sites and prepare them for redevelopment. The support team works with communities to identify ­issues that may obstruct redevelopment and provides assistance in coordinating with state and federal agencies critical to funding, permitting, and legal issues.

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It has overseen the commitment of more than $18 million toward cleanup of 312 acres in 11 communities, working with 24 local, state, and federal agencies.

The team has made Massachusetts a national leader in brownfield cleanup, Kenneth Kimmell, commissioner for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said at the State House.

A first round of projects was launched in 2008 and a second in 2010. The third round, ­announced Thursday, includes the former Lewis Chemical site in Hyde Park; Lower Millyard in Amesbury; the Central Steam Plant in Fitchburg; ­Ludlow Mills in Ludlow; and the former Elco Dress and adjacent Payne Cutlery sites in New Bedford.

Situated alongside the ­MBTA Fairmount Indigo Commuter Rail line, the Lewis Chemical site is contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly called PCBs, and chlorinated volatile organic compounds. Those pollutants must be cleaned up and a disused building on the site ­demolished before it can be commercially redeveloped.

Murray said the Hyde Park site had “great potential for commercial redevelopment.” He said he had spoken earlier in the day with Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston about his support for the project.

“I received a phone call a couple of hours ago from Mayor Menino,” Murray said. “He ­informed me that he’s been working on this project his ­entire career in government.”

Menino, a Hyde Park native, is in Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital recovering from several illnesses, but he offered his support in a statement released by the lieutenant governor’s ­office.

“This designation of the former Lewis Chemical plant will assist the City of Boston in cleaning the contaminated site and getting it back into productive use,” Menino said in the statement.

Murray said his role in the effort grew out of his experiences as a city councilor and later mayor of Worcester, where a study indicated that cleaning all the city’s contaminated sites would generate an additional $30 million revenue for the city’s tax base each year.

“That, in and of itself, was a tremendous incentive for us to start a conversation,” Murray said.

Murray said November is Brownfields Month in the ­Commonwealth. “I have a proclamation, with a lot of ‘whereases,’ from the governor,” ­Murray joked as he held up an official-looking folder, “that says cleaning up brownfields is wicked awesome.”

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
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