June 21, 2018
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BEP begins deliberations on cleanup plan at HoltraChem site

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Board of Environmental Protection, the group tasked with determining the extent of the cleanup at the old HoltraChem factory in Orrington, will meet today to begin deliberations.

The BEP session begins at 9 a.m. at the Augusta Civic Center, and a second meeting is planned for May 20, according to the group’s website.

“The record is closed so board members” only will discuss items already on the record, Cindy Pertocci, executive analyst for the board, said Wednesday. “It’s not an opportunity for comments, but our meetings are open to the public.”

On the table are four proposed cleanup measures, but two — one supported by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and one by the company that is paying for the cleanup — top the list of choices.

The state DEP would like all of the contaminated soil, some with high levels of mercury left behind when defunct HoltraChem went bankrupt in 2000, be removed from the 235-acre Penobscot River site. DEP officials issued an order in November 2008 requiring the company to remove approximately 360,000 tons of contami-nated soil from five outdated landfills on the site.

St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt Inc., which owned and operated the plant from 1967 to 1982 and is the sole former owner still in existence, is required to pay for the cleanup.

Mallinckrodt hired Portland-based engineering and science firm Woodard & Curran to create an alternative cleanup plan after the DEP’s 2008 order, and Woodard & Curran created a “source-removal alternative”

That alternative calls for removing 73,200 tons of contaminated soils from Landfill 1, which abuts the river and contains a mercury-saturated lagoon, and other contaminated areas, recapping Landfill 2 and leaving the other three landfills untouched on-site.

The town owns the land through tax delinquency. Town Selectmen voted on Feb. 2 to support the Mallinckrodt plan with the conditions that the company buy the landfills and other contaminated areas, pay for future on-site treatment and maintenance costs, and add infrastructure such as water lines and roads.

Town voters cast ballots in support of the board’s decision, 381-357, during an April 23 referendum, but the tally “is separate from the board’s proceedings,” Jan McClintock, an assistant attorney general who is representing the BEP board, said before the vote.

The BEP held public hearings on the cleanup in Orrington and Augusta in late January and early February and will begin deliberating those materials today. They are expected to make a decision about the scope of the cleanup project in the next month or so.

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