When I shipped up to New Bedford High School from Normandin Junior High in 1973, the "new" high school on Hathaway Boulevard had only been open a year. That was more than 50 years ago.

Like many dopey kids just starting high school, I knew everything. At least, I thought I knew everything.

What I didn't know in 1973 was that the school where I was about to spend the next three years studying, socializing and growing into young adulthood sat on top of a dump.

Not just any dump, but a toxic waste dump.

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"Nobody had heard of PCBs in 1970," former New Bedford Mayor George Rogers told the Standard-Times. "We knew it was a dump, but then most schools all over the country were built on either dumps or cemeteries...That's the only place where cities have free land."

Rogers, sworn into office days before, participated in breaking ground for the new high school on January 17, 1970.

New Bedford Schools, Ice Rink Were Built On A Toxic Waste Dump
Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media

The former Parker Street Waste Site, a 104-acre landfill, "is believed to be bounded to the north by Durfee Street, to the east by Liberty Street and the Oak Grove Cemetery, to the south by Hillman Street, and to the west by Summit Street," according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA says, "Centered around a former city-owned landfill, the Parker Street Waste Site includes the New Bedford High School campus, the recently constructed Keith Middle School, the Hetland Memorial Skating Rink property, Walsh Field, the new Andre McCoy Field, residential properties, New Bedford Housing Authority properties, Carabiner's Indoor Climbing Facility, and two private apartment complexes."

Though city officials knew the new high school would be built on a former dump site when they selected the site in 1968, the Standard-Times reported, "They did not know the property contained industrial ash loaded with excessive levels of PCBs and other toxic chemicals, which local manufacturing companies dumped at the site between the 1930s and the 1970s."

The chemical contamination was not detected until 2000.

A massive, multi-year clean-up and remediation of the site, costing more than $100 million, was directed by the EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management.

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