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State environmental board OKs landfill cleanup plan

Posted Aug. 19, 2010, at 4:45 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — State regulators on Thursday unanimously approved a cleanup plan for the HoltraChem site in Orrington that requires a former owner of the chemical factory to remove millions of pounds of contaminated soils found in two large landfills on the riverfront property.

But the Maine Board of Environmental Protection’s plan would allow Mallinckrodt Corp. to leave three additional landfills on site after re-capping them and installing additional groundwater monitoring and treatment systems.

Representatives for Mallinckrodt said they would proceed immediately with work to remove the most heavily contaminated landfill but left the door open for a possible appeal of the BEP’s order to excavate the soils in the second landfill.

“We are ready to move ahead where there is agreement,” said Mallinckrodt spokeswoman JoAnna Schooler. “However, as we examine the order, we will evaluate and consider what our next steps are.”

State officials have said they believe the HoltraChem site is the largest single source of mercury pollution in the lower Penobscot River, and cleaning up the site would be one of the biggest environmental remediation projects in Maine history.

Mallinckrodt has already spent roughly $40 million removing buildings and contaminated materials from the site, however the company appealed to the BEP a Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s order to begin removing all five landfills from the site.

The town of Orrington hopes to redevelop the roughly 300-acre site.

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