State House votes to allocate $250,000 in grants for Bliss Corner cleanup

Jul 18, 2022

Residents impacted by the toxic soil in Bliss Corner could get some much needed financial assistance from the state.

The State House on July 14 unanimously approved a $4.2 billion spending plan, which included an amendment from State Rep. Chris Markey (D-Dartmouth) to appropriate $250,000 toward grants for affected homeowners that would be affected by any future cleanups.

“We were all troubled when the contaminants were discovered in the Bliss Corner neighborhood and I am proud of the work that is currently being done to rectify the situation,” Markey said. “This grant funding is another impactful step we can take to assist residents in ensuring they have a safe and clean neighborhood to call home.”

Work is currently underway at five of the most highly contaminated homes by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is paid through its superfund program, which provides the agency cleanup monies when there is no viable responsible party to perform cleanups or reimburse the government.

The cleanup was triggered after lead and polychlorinated biphenyls — also known as PCBs — were found during the demolition of a home on McCabe Street in 2018.

It is possible cleanup efforts can expand beyond the five homes, but liability is currently disputed between the town and the state. According to the EPA, soil around 20 Bliss Corner properties are well above the federal lead level.

If approved by the legislature and governor, Markey said grant applications would be made available through the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

“Whether it be in six months or a year from now, it’s money that can help people, supplement those cleanups” Markey noted

The bill currently sits before the State Senate, which is expected to vote on its version of a spending package later this week.