Monday, December 2, 2002

BOSTON (AP) Temperatures hovered near freezing, storm clouds threatened a mix of wet snow and rain, and Chester MacDonald was happily up to his knees in muck.
Fourteen months after September 11 security worries drove Mr. MacDonald and dozens of other clam diggers off the flats near Logan International Airport, he returned last week to the backbreaking work he loved.
Under a state law approved in the summer, 40 to 50 clam diggers who used to work the flats were allowed to return after having been fingerprinted by police, getting new identification cards and receiving their own security briefing.
Mr. MacDonald, 71, was among more than two dozen clammers who showed up Friday, their first day back.
“This is a godsend here, because Christmas is coming,” Mr. MacDonald said. “All I can tell you is that it’s been a long 14 months.”
The day after the terrorist attacks, clammers were evicted from about five miles of prime flats in Boston Harbor.
Massachusetts Port Authority officials then established a 500-foot-wide security zone around the airport that included the rich clamming grounds.
The clammers appealed to lawmakers, who passed a law giving the diggers an exemption to the security zone, provided they passed background checks.
Massport officials frowned at the exemption, calling it a “less-than-ideal scenario in terms of securing the airport perimeter.”
The clammers each have to pay $110 for the background check, fingerprinting and an ID card. They also must wear black-and-yellow vests while clamming in the secure zone.
The clammers were so familiar with the airport’s noise and smell of burnt rubber that most knew something was amiss the morning of September 11, when everything suddenly went silent. Mr. MacDonald said the clammers will make the airport more secure, not less.
“Who knows this waterfront better than us?” He said. “Anyone we see who doesn’t belong here, we call the police.”

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