May 22, 2018
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HoltraChem site ruling appealed

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

ORRINGTON, Maine — Mallinckrodt officials filed an appeal Friday of the Maine Board of Environmental Protection’s recent ruling that requires the company to completely remove two of the five mercury-laden landfills at the former HoltraChem facility.

The BEP decided in mid-August to require St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt Inc., which owned and operated a chemical plant at the site from 1967 to 1982, to remove two large landfills blamed for leaching massive quantities of mercury into the Penobscot River.

Mallinckrodt filed a 36-page appeal in Penobscot County Superior Court of the BEP’s ruling, asking the court to throw out the entire order or modify it to eliminate requirements to remove Landfill 2, recap Landfills 3, 4 and 5, hire a third-party consultant, do additional testing and perform remedial activities on a Department of Environmental Protection schedule.

“We continue to disagree with and are opposed to some aspects of the order, specifically the removal of Landfill 2, which is not supported by scientific evidence, and could expose citizens of Orrington to excessive air emissions,” company spokeswoman JoAnna Schooler said on Monday.

The appeal also asks the court to invalidate a section of Maine’s uncontrolled hazardous substance site law dealing with the cleanup project and to order the state to pay for attorney fees, court costs and “order such other and further relief as may be just and proper.”

State DEP officials issued an order in November 2008 requiring the company to remove approximately 360,000 tons of contaminated soil from the site’s five outdated landfills.

Mallinckrodt, which is the sole former owner still in existence and is responsible for the cleanup, appealed to the BEP to reduce the scope of the cleanup and offered a “source-removal alternative.” Their plan would remove 73,200 tons of contaminated soils from Landfill 1, which abuts the river and contains a mercury-saturated lagoon and other contaminated areas, and also would recap Landfill 2, while leaving the other three landfills untouched.

The BEP’s Aug. 19 order basically combines the state and company cleanup plans.

“The majority of the cleanup activities under the BEP order are not being appealed,” Schooler said. “We’re ready to get to work on aspects of the cleanup where there is full agreement.”

The appeal states that the BEP’s order “still contains several significant and burdensome requirements that are arbitrary and capricious, unnecessary, and beyond the scope of the [uncontrolled hazardous substance site law].”

It also states that “If not for political interference (into what is typically a science driven process to select an appropriate remedy), this site would be cleaned-up.”

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