Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Federal Approval to Develop for Offshore Wind Deployment

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Robert Fitzpatrick
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Nov 18, 2012 –

The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided the Commonwealth with environmental approval to construct the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, a multi-purpose facility that will enable the Port of New Bedford to handle high volume bulk and container shipping, as well as large specialty marine cargo. The terminal will also be the first facility in the nation designed to support the construction, assembly, and deployment of offshore wind projects.

With the EPA’s authorization, the project is expected to go out to bid to prospective developers within the next several weeks, and be completed in 2014. The terminal will be able to accommodate the docking of vessels that deliver wind turbine parts as well as barges to transport the assembled components from the port to the installation area. In addition, the terminal area includes significant lay-down space for wind turbine components and trans-shipment cargo.

“This facility makes Massachusetts the East Coast hub for offshore wind development while strengthening New Bedford’s position as a port city,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “The construction of the terminal helps launch a new clean energy industry in Massachusetts that will create hundreds of jobs, enhance our energy security, and reduce fossil fuel emissions.”

“By focusing on clean energy initiatives and supporting economic development in our seaport communities, this project will improve infrastructure that is vital to New Bedford’s harbor,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Chair of the Seaport Advisory Council.  “As we move ahead with this project, we look forward to creating jobs and growing the regional economy.”

In its decision, the EPA determined that the project is protective of both human health and the environment, meets the substantive requirements of federal and state environmental standards, and is consistent with the ongoing New Bedford Harbor Superfund remediation. As part of construction, the project will include significant environmental cleanup of up to 244,600 cubic yards of contaminated sediment that currently rests on the harbor bottom within the footprint of the project, the deposition of which was the result of waste releases from industrial activities around the harbor during the 1930s and 1940s.

“After carefully reviewing all of the data and supporting material, EPA is confident that the work needed to construct the South Terminal in New Bedford can be done in a way that protects the health of local citizens, and protects New Bedford’s environment,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.  “This is another example of EPA work that is helping New Bedford to revitalize its economy by cleaning the environment, and to begin another chapter in its proud history.”

The terminal facility involves the construction of a new coffer-dam style bulkhead capable of providing berthing space for large shipping vessels, including those delivering offshore wind components and the jack-up barges that will serve as construction vessels for offshore wind projects. The facility will increase the existing capability in New Bedford Harbor to receive ships up to 500 feet in length, increasing the City’s competitiveness as a medium-sized Northeast port, and putting the port at the forefront of what is expected to become a robust renewable energy supply chain industry. In addition to receiving and handling large offshore wind components, the terminal will provide the port with a new capability to receive oversized equipment such as rail cars and industrial-sized boilers.

“This project comes with infinite potential,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. “Not only will it make Massachusetts a national leader in offshore wind, but it will contribute to the revitalization the City of New Bedford, making it a major player in the shipping industry, bringing economic dividends to the region.”

Specifically, the new terminal’s major construction elements include:

  • Dredging and removal of contaminated sediment in the harbor to create a channel to the facility that will be constructed to a depth of 30 feet for the passage of deep water vessels;
  • The construction of a 1,000 foot long extension to the existing South Terminal bulkhead. The new bulkhead will be built as a coffer-dam style structure capable of supporting large vessel berthing as well as heavy shore-side cranes for the unloading of cargo and industrial components that are expected to range in size from large to super-sized.
  • Placing of the clean sediment generated from the dredging behind the bulkhead to create additional acres of productive land available for staging commercial scale offshore wind projects; and
  • Constructing a Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) cell offshore for disposal and sequestration of any contaminated soils in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

The project is a collaboration of multiple agencies within the Commonwealth, including the Executive Offices of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), and Administration and Finance (ANF), the Departments of Environmental Protection and Fish and Game, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), and the City of New Bedford.  Apex Companies Waterways Division, a marine and infrastructure engineering and environmental services group with a long history of successful projects completed in New Bedford Harbor, serves as the Commonwealth’s permitting, design and construction implementation consultant.

“The South Terminal project is a milestone for our area’s economic development. The potential for the facility is unlimited and will lead to the creation of a number of local jobs,” said Sen. Mark Montigny, long time sponsor of the state bonding that is financing the project. “The building of the terminal facility will enable New Bedford to become the leading East Coast offshore wind staging port and will ensure New Bedford’s role in this fast developing maritime related industry. I look forward to working with state and city officials to bring this project to completion in a timely and cost effective manner.”

“This project is a significant state investment in New Bedford,” said Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral. “State investments mean jobs, and I will continue to work with Governor Patrick to make this project a reality.”

“New Bedford has quickly become the center of attention for the offshore wind industry in North America, and with good reason,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “If we continue our steady progress, the South Terminal Project has the best chance anywhere in the country of becoming the birthplace of this exciting new industry on U.S. shores. Securing this decision from EPA is a significant step towards this goal. The South Terminal Project is in this enviable position today only because of the commitment and careful attention of the EPA and its Regional Administrator Curt Spalding and the sustained efforts of a host of state agencies lead by Governor Patrick and Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rick Sullivan.  Our hats are off to all of them.”

“Offshore wind development will provide a promising economic future for the Commonwealth,” said MassCEC CEO Alicia Barton McDevitt. “Today we’ve taken a big step toward that future, which will not only create local jobs but tap in to a powerful local source of clean and reliable energy.”

“Rarely does a project come along that will both improve environmental quality and expand economic opportunity as much as the South Terminal Expansion. EPA’s approval of the project represents an exciting moment for New Bedford and for the future of renewable energy in New England,” said Mark Rasmussen, President of the Buzzards Bay Coalition.  

The final cost of the terminal is estimated to be approximately $100 million, when the costs of construction, land acquisition, development and environmental permitting, harbor dredging and environmental remediation are included. The project will be financed by the Commonwealth with contributions from the City of New Bedford and the investment will be offset by revenue generated by users of the terminal.

The terminal is ideally suited for the burgeoning offshore wind industry in the United States as it is located in proximity to areas along the East Coast that are under consideration for offshore wind development. The federal government is leading an offshore wind permitting and leasing process in nine states, including Massachusetts, along the Atlantic Coast. That process is expected to lead to the construction of multiple projects, many of which could make use of this first-in-the-nation facility.

America’s best offshore wind resource is in New England, however, it is a substantial distance from our current offshore oil infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico. A purpose built facility in the Northeast is necessary to handle the heavy loads and demanding logistics of commercial scale offshore wind projects.

“Cape Wind applauds the Commonwealth’s development of the multi-purpose marine facility. The port will bring marine commerce and jobs to New Bedford for years to come, and will contribute to the development of a robust offshore wind industry,” said Jim Gordon, President of Cape Wind.

“Offshore wind will create many good paying jobs in this region, and New Bedford will play a major role in this new green jobs economy. The state’s investment in New Bedford is critical to this effort,” said Jeff Grybowski, CEO Deepwater Wind.

“I would like to applaud Massachusetts for achieving a significant milestone towards completing the New Bedford Marine Terminal,” said Erich Stephens, Executive Vice President of Offshore MW. “This infrastructure investment will help provide the foundation for a new industry that will put many more to work for years to come, and will combat the climate change that is already impacting the entire East Coast. Thanks to the vision of Governor Patrick and many other officials in Massachusetts, New Bedford will soon be an American offshore wind success story, and help launch the US offshore wind industry.”

“EDF Renewable Energy supports the expansion of the New Bedford Terminal as part of Massachusetts’ offshore wind development efforts. This expansion is another great example of Massachusetts’ leadership in renewable energy. We applaud these efforts to spur job creation and support clean energy,” said Jim Shretter, VP at EDF Renewable Energy.

“Fishermen’s Energy applauds the joint efforts today of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of New Bedford leadership to make significant investment in expanding the New Bedford port,” said Daniel Cohen, Chairman of the Board of Fishermen’s Energy. “Fishermen’s Energy is committed to working with State and local officials to assure that opportunities for growth in both the fishing industry and the offshore wind industry are to the greatest extent compatible to assure sustainable fisheries along with renewable energy.”

Offshore wind is the largest potential source of clean energy for Massachusetts, and its development can create a significant new industry here in the Commonwealth. The U.S. Department of Energy projects 43,000 clean energy jobs will be created in the offshore wind industry nationally by 2020. Massachusetts expects to play a large role in this industry.

The EPA authorization comes following a public hearing held in New Bedford in July 2012.

As part of this process, the Commonwealth submitted data relating to environmental resource impact assessments and environmental mitigation measures.