NEIWPCC, States, Oppose Lab Closing

Posted on Thursday, January 18th, 2018 | Posted in iWR

iWR January 2018 Front Page

NEIWPCC strongly opposes a plan to close the EPA regional laboratory located in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

The pending closure is part of a long-term effort to reduce wasted space in federally owned buildings and to vacate leases. The EPA had not made a final decision on the lab’s fate as this issue of the Internet Water Report was going to press.

To voice its opposition, NEIWPCC, on behalf its seven member states, wrote a comment letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last August opposing the agency-proposed closure of the Chelmsford lab.

The states, through the letter, said that closing the facility will have “financial consequences” for the New England States and will “delay the rapid response” needed to “safeguard human health and the environment” in this region.

Mobile Laboratory

From Chelmsford, New England Regional Laboratory mobile vans can travel to anywhere in New England within five hours. Photo: EPA

The New England Regional Laboratory (NERL) analyzes more than 12,500 samples annually to protect fresh air and clean water for the region.

NERL’s potential closing or relocation will affect the ability of state and federal environmental agency employees to access specialized training, reducing the ability for these programs to effectively carry out their work.

If the facility closes as planned, state and federal environmental programs will be forced to work with the next closest laboratories in Rhode Island and New Jersey, which could cause delays in times of crisis. Alternatively, states could contract with private laboratories, adding additional expenses to already stretched budgets.

NERL provides monitoring and analysis of regional environmental conditions affecting public health. The laboratory houses specialized equipment and is a vital piece of the environmental protection structure, responding swiftly in times of hurricanes and other crises such as industrial accidents.

The pending closure raises concerns regarding the continuation of specialized analysis in tracing pollutant sources, such as human waste, impacted by complex hydrology, the detection of perfluorinated chemicals in drinking water, or cyanotoxin analysis of harmful algal blooms.

NERL is one of several EPA laboratories being evaluated nationwide, an effort that first began in 2010.

Further Information

iWR • January 2018 • To front page