Mallinckrodt, Orrington sign $1.5M agreement

Posted Oct. 26, 2010, at 9:27 p.m.
Cleanup continues at the former HoltraChem facility in Orrington as seen in a fall 2005 photo. BANGOR DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN BENNETT
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Cleanup continues at the former HoltraChem facility in Orrington as seen in a fall 2005 photo. BANGOR DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN BENNETT

ORRINGTON, Maine — Town Manager Paul White signed an agreement Tuesday with St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt Inc. that requires the company to purchase contaminated areas of the former HoltraChem site, pay for future monitoring and provide $1.5 million for redevelopment.

“First and foremost for the town of Orrington is to move along this project that has been delayed for 10 years,” White said. “We’re looking beyond this cleanup, to reuse this property.”

The state Board of Environmental Protection ordered Mallinckrodt in August to remove two of the five mercury-laden landfills that are blamed for leaching massive quantities of mercury into the Penobscot River.

The town owns the land through tax delinquency, but Mallinckrodt, which already has spent around $40 million cleaning up the former chemical factory and is the sole former owner still in existence, is responsible for the cleanup.

The agreement gives the company access to the site “for purposes of conducting remedial and other activities pursuant to the order issued by the Department of Environmental Protection and modified by the Board of Environmental Protection,” it states.

The purchase portion of the agreement states that the company, which owned and operated a chemical plant at the site from 1967 to 1982, will pay the town $175,000 by Dec. 31, 2013, for the contaminated areas of the 235-acre riverfront locale.

“It includes all of the landfills and all of the manufacturing site with a proposed buffer,” White said. “We’re just guessing. It’s probably between 15 and 30 acres.”

Mallinckrodt has agreed to pay for a survey of the property, which will be conducted in the next 30 days, to determine the exact acreage that will be purchased, the agreement states.

In early discussions, the company agreed to put in a new road and add utilities and infrastructure to the site, which the town plans to redevelop once the DEP says it can go forward, but the final agreement was modified to replace the proposed construction work with funding.

“Mallinckrodt has agreed to provide [payments to the town] for the next three years,” White said.

The agreement says “Mallinckrodt will transfer $1.5 million in three $500,000 installments to Orrington for town redevelopment projects including the installation of infrastructure at the property.”

The first installment is due by the end of the year, and the final payment is due by Dec. 1, 2012. The funds most likely will be put into a reserve account to be used when the town decides exactly which projects to do, White said.

“We don’t have to make any hasty decisions,” he said.

The seven-page agreement also requires Mallinckrodt to pay for future on-site treatment, monitoring and maintenance costs, but exactly how much will go into that escrow or trust fund has not been established, White said.

Last February, Orrington selectmen directed White to go before the BEP to endorse Mallinckrodt’s proposed cleanup plan on the condition that the agreement signed Tuesday be negotiated.

Once the BEP made its decision in August, “we initiated discussions with Mallinckrodt” about the agreement, White said.

Last month, Mallinckrodt filed a 36-page appeal of the BEP’s ruling in Penobscot County Superior Court, asking the court to throw out the entire order or modify it.

“The company proposes to restart the cleanup work now even as the appeal is being heard,” a press release from Mallinckrodt states.

“We made a commitment to this community to fully remediate this site and assist the town in its efforts to redevelop the property,” Patricia Duft, a Mallinckrodt vice president, said in the statement. “Our immediate goal is to renew the collaborative relationship we once had with the Maine DEP so that we can continue our efforts to clean up the site and address the town’s concerns about funds being available to complete the cleanup.”

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