NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 13, 2012

Shellfish plant avoids getting shelled

NEWBURYPORT — Funding for the Newburyport shellfish purification plant on Plum Island that had been cut from Gov. Deval Patrick’s $32.5 billion budget has been reinstated.

The plant will receive $400,000, after the state Senate voted overwhelmingly yesterday to restore the money. The House had done so earlier in the week.

The plant, run by the state Division of Marine Fisheries, cleans shellfish — mostly clams — that are brought in by local workers. It employs about a half-dozen, and proponents say its operation indirectly supports many other jobs.

After purification, the seafood can be transported to commercial outlets with the certification that it is fit for consumption.

“I’m glad the money was restored,” said state Rep. Mike Costello, who was a lead advocate for the funding and the restoration.

“It enables clammers to make a living and also is helpful to many down the line, including restaurant owners and consumers who buy for the home. The plant plays an important role in our area.”

The Plum Island facility has been deleted in budgets of other governors and has always escaped elimination.

“This is an important function for the local area,” said Harbormaster Paul Hogg. “Clams have to be purified, and restaurants have to know what they serve has been through the process.

“I don’t know where the local clammers would go if this plant wasn’t here.”

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