Back to top
the Gloucester harbor is pictured with boats in the background and a small boathouse and ramp in the foreground
Gloucester Harbor in 2012. (Doug Kerr/Wikimedia Commons)

$5.38 million Settlement Proposed for Pollution in Gloucester, MA

July 12, 2023

On July 12, 2023, a $5.38 million settlement was proposed in Federal District Court to restore natural resources impacted by contaminants discharged along the Gloucester, Massachusetts waterfront. 

The pollution came from a manufactured gas plant that operated along the Gloucester waterfront between 1854 and 1952, near the present-day Harbor Loop and Rogers Street area of the city’s Inner Harbor. The gas plant used industrial processes to produce manufactured gas from coal and oil. Customers used the gas primarily for the same purposes we use natural gas today, including lighting, cooking and heating. Manufactured gas plants, which were common before the development of the region’s natural gas pipelines, often yielded by-products of the gas production process such as tars, sludges, and oils.

These types of hazardous chemicals contaminated soils and groundwater, as well as sediment, in the adjacent Gloucester Harbor. These pollutants posed risks to fish, wildlife and sediment-dwelling species that depend upon this area for habitat.

National Grid worked with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to clean up contamination from the former gas plant. The cleanup, which began in 2015, included removal of contaminated soils, sediment, and groundwater, capping of some park and harbor areas with clean fill, and construction of a new seawall to protect the harbor. All cleanup activities were concluded in 2017.

The draft consent decree provides a settlement value of $5,380,000, including $5,300,000 for restoration projects and $68,000 to reimburse the trustees for the remaining portion of past damage assessment costs. DOJ will accept public comments on the Agreement for 30 days, through August 11, 2023.

The trustees will work with the public to identify and select potential restoration projects. An example of a potential project is the restoration and enhancement of degraded coastal wetlands near Gloucester Harbor. A restoration plan will be drafted and released for public comment in the months after the settlement is finalized. 


Eric Hutchins, Restoration Coordinator
NOAA Restoration Center
Phone: 978-281-9313

more images

Gloucester harbor dredging area with a crane in the background