Shell fish plant in jeopardy again
NEWBURYPORT — A year after it was threatened with closure, only to be saved at the last minute through the work of local legislators, the shellfish purification plant on Plum Island is again facing an uncertain future.Now, those same legislators who fought for its survival last year, in partnership with a group of clammers determined to keep the shellfish industry alive in Massachusetts, are once again hoping to ensure the last state-run purification plant in the country doesn't fade into history.Third-generation shellfisherman John "Jack" Grundstrom of Rowley said cutting funding for the plant would be catastrophic for the state, putting many clammers' livelihoods in jeopardy."It affects the whole industry," Grundstrom said. "The big thing we've tried to do with the shellfish industry is to make it sustainable. ... If we don't have local clams, including the ones that come from the depuration plant, the vendors will start buying clams from Maine or wherever else they can get them."Gov. Deval Patrick announced earlier this month he planned to cut $400,000 in funding for the plant, which has operated since 1928 on a spit of land at the tip of Plum Island Point. The last of similar plants placed in service in the early 1900s, the Plum Island facility provides a place where fishermen can cleanse shellfish dug from semi-contaminated flats in Newburyport, Salisbury, Boston, Weymouth, Quincy, Hull, Revere, Saugus and Winthrop.