URI oceanographers receive EPA awards for work on Boston Harbor cleanup

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NARRAGANSETT, R.I., May 3, 2017—The Environmental Protection Agency today recognized the late Scott W. Nixon, an oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island, for his work keeping Boston Harbor clean.

Robert D. Kenney, a marine research scientist emeritus at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography, was also recognized. Nixon, who died four years ago, was a professor at GSO for more than four decades.

The Outfall Monitoring Science Advisory Panel was critical to the success of the Boston Harbor cleanup and recovery. Established in 1998, the panel works to ensure that the Massachusetts Water Resources Recovery Authority meets permit requirements and that the recovery of Boston Harbor is not accomplished at the expense of Massachusetts Bay.

The independent group of marine scientists advises the EPA on the effects of the discharge of about 320 million gallons per day from the authority’s Deer Island sewage treatment plant. The discharge is sent nine miles offshore into Massachusetts Bay.

The panel’s most important work is evaluating revisions in the monitoring program, used as a model for overseeing wastewater discharges in other coastal ecosystems.

Nixon was internationally renowned for his work involving coastal and estuarine ecosystems. The research of Kenney, a Narragansett resident, focused on the ecology and conservation biology of marine vertebrates, particularly seals, whales, dolphins, sea turtles and sharks.

The former GSO professors are among a notable group. Other members of the panel are Andrew Solow, retired chair of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Robert Beardsley, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Judith Pederson, interim chair of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sea Grant; Michael Shiaris and Juanita Urban-Rich, both of the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Jim Shine of the Harvard School of Public Health; Geoffrey Trussell of Northeastern University; and Norb Jaworski, retired member of the EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Every year, EPA’s New England office recognizes individuals and groups in the six New England states who have worked to protect or improve the region’s environment. The award recognizes extraordinary ingenuity and commitment.

“Citizens, businesses and organizations are going above and beyond to help protect people’s health and preserve our region’s environment,” said Deb Szaro, acting regional administrator of the EPA’s New England office. “Today we applaud these award winners who make our towns, cities and countryside healthy, more vibrant places with clean air, land and water. Many of these winners have shown us that good business and a clean environment go hand in hand.”