Trial of marathon suspect’s pal sparks fearful memories for neighbors


NEW BEDFORD — There’s a new name on the buzzer for the ground floor apartment at 69 Carriage Drive, and the black BMW with a vanity plate reading “Terrorista #1” is no longer parked outside.

But neighbors of Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev say they still can’t shake the fear they felt last April when a SWAT team swarmed the neighborhood in search of the two UMass Dartmouth students who were friends of Bos

ton Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tazhayakov was on trial this week for obstruction of justice, and a jury is now deliberating on the case. Neighbors, though, are just trying to get back to normal.

Next door to where Tazhayakov lived, Henry Fernandes, who follows local and national news on television, said he was keeping up with the trial.

“You can’t help but be aware of it,” he said.

Sometimes the networks will flash photos of FBI agents searching the local landfill, or arresting Tazhayakov down the street. Then his memories of April 20, 2013, come back, he said.

On that night, he said, he looked out his window when he heard a commotion, and saw a laser reflecting on his chest. He assumed it was from the sights of a sniper and went back inside quickly and unharmed.

“I still visualize that, though, when the agent had the laser on me,” he said Thursday.

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Funding cuts, EPA cleanups and the toxins left behind

Trout caught in Torch Lake, Mich., are not safe to eat. Groundwater in Baldwin, Fla., is not safe to drink. Six acres of land in Bridgewater, Mass., are not safe to live on.

All three locations were once among the most dangerous toxic waste sites in the country and became part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund cleanup program. All three are now considered clean by the EPA, though toxins remain.

The EPA is responsible for protecting human health at 1,700 hazardous waste sites across the country through the Superfund program. These sites contain chemicals that can cause a range of serious illnesses, from cancer to birth defects to neurological disorders.

As is the case at Torch Lake, Baldwin and Bridgewater, an EPA “cleanup” does not mean all toxins are gone. Toxic materials, in many cases, are physically or financially impossible to eliminate. Instead, many Superfund cleanups end with restrictions on how a site can be used because the toxins left behind still pose a danger to human health.

But as time passes after a cleanup, no one agency monitors adherence to the restrictions. And notice or awareness of the restrictions fade or fail to remain part of property records. Ultimately, potential dangers remain for the one in four Americans who live within four miles of a Superfund site.

Federal funding for Superfund cleanups has stagnated over the past 15 years, even as the number of Superfund sites grows. Critics worry that financial constraints will only increase the amount of toxins left behind after Superfund cleanups, putting residents at risk. Continue reading

Different states with different rules sting SouthCoast fluke fishermen

That’s 100 pounds of fluke, roughly 33 individual fish, most of which were already dead.

It’s an unavoidable fact of the fluke fishery that every time you go out to fish, you have to throw some back. It comes with the territory.

State environmental regulations limit fishing trips by the pound, but it’s impossible to tell how much fish is in a net that’s underwater.

You can estimate based on what you caught the last time, Borges said, but the only way to know for sure is to bring the net up, suffocating or crushing the fish in the process.

Borges and New Bedford’s other fluke fishermen say there is a better way. They say if states could cooperate, fewer fish would be unnecessarily discarded.

Take Borges’ trip to federal waters on Wednesday, April 9. Fishing just south of Rhode Island, he plunged his net into the water and in a single tow brought up 1,600 pounds of fluke.

But the permit Borges has to sell the fluke in Rhode Island only lets him bring 1,500 pounds to shore. So to comply with the law, he threw 100 pounds back into the ocean before coming into Point Judith to sell his catch.

Borges has permits to sell fish in multiple states, including Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia and Massachusetts. Right now, he is only allowed to fish for one license at a time.

Borges said if the states would cooperate he could have kept that extra 100 pounds of fish and put it toward his Massachusetts landing license, which allows him to have 1,000 pounds of fluke. He would then come into Point Judith with 2,500 pounds of fish and unload his Rhode Island quota, before steaming up to New Bedford to unload the remaining 1,000 pounds in Massachusetts.

By being able to fish on multiple licenses per trip, Borges estimates he could halve the number of fish he discards while saving himself valuable time and money.

“It breaks my heart to throw them away,” said Borges, who has discarded up to 600 pounds of fish at once. “But I have to do it all the time. It’s the law.”
Those laws, though, are unlikely to change. Marine Fisheries officials in Rhode Island and Massachusetts say doing so would require multiple times more manpower than their offices have. They also worry inter-state cooperation could tempt fishermen to take advantage.

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Lawmakers OK rail fund; governors fail to show SouthCoast the money

That’s because Montigny, like many advocates for a rail line to connect New Bedford to Boston, has seen these kinds of bills become law before.

In the long and tortured history of the still defunct local rail line, the state Legislature has passed not one, but four bond bills authorizing a total of $1.3 billion for the project.

None of it was ever spent.

“The Legislature can bond all we want, but it’s literally funny money until the governor decides to spend it,” Montigny said.

If history repeats itself, SouthCoast’s transportation future could be a grim one, despite the current bond bill including $2.2 billion for the project. But some advocates say headway made in other areas like environmental permitting and the state’s transportation budget could mean this bond bill is more likely to be spent than the ones that came before it.

The fifth time just might be the charm.

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How New England’s dependence on natural gas is causing a pipeline traffic jam

Heating homes is given priority.

It’s a decision that makes sense given the number of other fuels available to generate electricity — coal, oil, sun, wind, nuclear, are just a few. But it’s also a decision that’s costing New England more and more each winter, as using natural gas for home heating grows in popularity.

The result is a traffic jam on the natural gas pipelines that puts electric generation, and your ability to turn on the lights, at risk throughout the region.

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Offshore wind developers outsmart century-old federal law

But that’s the dilemma facing the American offshore wind industry, thanks to a federal law from 1920.

The Jones Act, initially passed to protect maritime merchants, requires vessels transporting cargo or equipment between two U.S. points to be American flagged and manufactured. But because the offshore wind industry has not yet taken off in the states, the only vessels in the world capable of helping it along are manufactured in Europe.

That could leave Massachusetts stuck in a Catch-22, in which manufacturers don’t want to construct vessels for an industry that does not yet exist.

Instead, state officials say they are banking on the unique engineering of South Terminal to circumvent the riddle and spur an industry that will be based in the Commonwealth.

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Expiring state policies slow solar development

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Conflict flares over solar farms on Freetown’s Braley Road

“God was the first environmentalist,” Dias will say. “He created all of this, and I am a man of God. I want to preserve his creations.”

But the industrial-sized solar farms — each with roughly 4,000 panels — represent to Dias the continuation of what he called a history of discrimination and environmental injustice against the Cape Verdean community living on Freetown’s Braley Road.

Led by Dias, the town’s only minority community has been fighting for more than 30 years against what it sees as town-supported industry encroaching on the small residential area.

But this time, at least, town officials say their hands are tied by a zoning bylaw written five years ago that had unintended consequences, effectively removing their authority over solar installations.

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Cranberry growers, Ocean Spray trying to make sour sweet

“That’s why they say cranberries only began to be farmed in the 1800s — the Pilgrims didn’t like them,” explained A.D. Makepeace Farm’s Glenn Reid, who is assistant manager of cranberry operations there. “That’s when the sailors started coming over on the ships. They filled their barrels up to kill the scurvy on the way back.”

The sourness of cranberries is both a source of pride and authenticity for growers and a marketing obstacle. The myth is a comforting one, though, when faced with the idea that the berries will have to have mounds of sugar added for most people to eat them. As Reid said, “Even the Pilgrims didn’t like cranberries.”

It turns out that’s only partially true. Plimoth Plantation Colonial Foodways Culinarian Kathleen Wall said “sour was good” in the 17th century.

Cranberries were present in England before the Pilgrims came over. And while they never ate the berries “as a fruit,” they did use them “as a condiment” to make sour sauces.

“We don’t have any sort of story where Squanto takes the Pilgrims to a bog and hands them a cranberry to watch them make sour faces,” she said.

That’s something Reid does do with visitors to the 2,000 acres of bogs at A.D. Makepeace.

Standing in a bog of early blacks (a type of cranberry) Thursday, he bent down and snapped three off a vine and handed them to a visitor.

She ate them and made a face.

“These are the way a cranberry is supposed to taste,” he said. “If you want something sweet, go eat an apple.”

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Fairhaven Shipyard and its neighbors are at odds over noise and dust complaints

From there, the group had an unobstructed view of the Fairhaven Shipyard’s North Yard, which Rowe and the Lueys say has been making their lives miserable with a combination of noise and particulate pollution.

On this day, workers were grinding at two fishing vessels, the black Chief and Clyde II and the green Stephanie Vaughn.

The grinders sounded like lawn mowers, and lifted from each hull wisps of dust that swirled in the wind as they blew toward Rowe’s porch.

“If this were as bad as it ever was,” Rowe said, “we wouldn’t have an issue.”

Residents of Middle and Water Streets describe living near the shipyard as living in “a nightmare,” “a war zone” and “a dentist’s office.”

It’s not just the noise, but also potential pollution that has them wary of the shipyard and concerned for their health.

Shipyard owner Gail Isaksen denies that her business has broken any environmental regulations. She said residents should expect noise when living near “the working waterfront.”

“If you live near an airport you get the sounds of airplanes,” she said.

But neighbors like Rowe, who avoids going outside due to pollution concerns, say it hasn’t always been this way.

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