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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 476-97
September 12, 1997

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE TAKES ACTION TO ADDRESS CONCERNS ABOUT CRANBERRIES ON CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS

Sherri W. Goodman, deputy under secretary of Defense for Environmental Security, met with members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation yesterday. Ms. Goodman explained that she will continue to work with the cranberry growers, the Cape Cod community, and the Massachusetts congressional delegation concerning recent tests conducted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts showing traces of ethylene dibromide (EDB) on cranberries in a bog on the Quashnet River near the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR).

"We take this issue very seriously," said Ms. Goodman. "We understand the Commonwealth is conducting additional tests to validate these findings. The Air Force will also conduct follow-on tests to determine better the nature and scope of the issue. We will continue to work with the cranberry growers, the community, and the Massachusetts congressional delegation."

If growers have been commercially injured, the Air Force will work with the local community to understand who has been injured, and how. If necessary, the Department of Defense then will work with the Massachusetts congressional delegation, and the Congress, to seek legislative authority to provide compensation as appropriate.

Trace levels of EDB were discovered the week of September 1 on cranberries taken from a bog on the Quashnet River. The Air Force is examining what environmental response actions may be needed at the Quashnet River bog. EDB previously was found in waters adjacent to some cranberry bogs on the Coonamessett River. The Air Force has taken response actions under the Superfund law to protect human health and the environment at the Coonamessett bogs, including the installation of several wells to provide fresh water for irrigating the bogs.

An interim removal action is in progress for EDB cleanup on the Coonamessett River. The plan calls for the installation and operation of an extraction well where a maximum amount of contaminant can be removed.


The Air Force anticipates that the first phase of the plan, the installation of the initial extraction well, will be completed by the end of September. Once the well is in operation, performance data will be collected and coupled with computer models to determine whether additional wells are needed.

Questions may be directed to LTC Nancy Burt, (703) 697-4162, Ms. Gerda Parr or Ms. Pamela Phillips (SAFIPACE), at (703)614-1325.

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