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Massachusetts environmental agency investigates source of oil sheen on Housatonic River

Deep water boom on the Housatonic River in Pittsfield, Mass.
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Deep water boom on the Housatonic River in Pittsfield, Mass.

The Massachusetts environmental protection agency is investigating and cleaning up an oil slick on the Housatonic River in Pittsfield.

The Pittsfield Fire Department notified the DEP. of an oily sheen on the river on Friday. The department installed absorbent booms to contain the oil. The agency arrived and instructed state contractors to install deep water booms--and to clean up the oil and contaminated leaf litter.

The agency is continuing to investigate the source of the spill.

The DEP believes the sheen is petroleum-based. It submitted a sample to a lab to determine if PCBs are present.

The slick is in a stretch of the Housatonic River where General Electric and the EPA cleaned up PCBs from 2002 until 2006.

G.E. contaminated the river when it used PCBs until the 1970s to manufacture electrical transformers in Pittsfield.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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