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The Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs says it has received approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to build the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, which will serve as a hub for the nascent offshore wind energy supply chain.

The new facility will handle a high volume of bulk and container shipping, as well as large specialty marine cargo, and will be the first facility in the nation designed to support the construction, assembly and deployment of offshore wind projects.

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.

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.

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 from industrial activities conducted around the harbor during the 1930s and 1940s.

The project will involve 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 long. 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.

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.

Apex Companies’ Waterways division, a marine and infrastructure engineering and environmental services group, will serve as the commonwealth’s permitting, design and construction implementation consultant.

“This facility makes Massachusetts the East Coast hub for offshore wind development while strengthening New Bedford’s position as a port city,” says Massachusetts Gov. 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.”

“Cape Wind applauds the commonwealth’s development of the multi-purpose marine facility,” adds Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind. “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.”

Developers are expected to be able to bid on the project within the next several weeks, and the facility is scheduled to be completed in 2014.


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