April 21, 2018
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EPA to outline cleanup efforts at Callahan Mine site

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

BROOKSVILLE, Maine — Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be in town Tuesday to discuss scheduled cleanup efforts at the former Callahan Mine Superfund site.

A public information meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, at the Brooksville Public Service Building.

The first phase of the Superfund cleanup project at the mine site is scheduled to begin this spring. According to Selectman Richard Bakemen, crews already have moved equipment onto the site. Bakeman said the roads in town have been posted prohibiting heavy loads, so the actual removal of materials cannot begin until those postings are lifted. The roads are posted each spring to prevent damage as the ground thaws.

The cleanup work during this initial phase, which has been estimated to cost $3 million, will target specific areas on the mine site that were identified last fall by residents as critical and high priorities.

This phase of the project will include removal of lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil and mine waste from three residential properties on Old Mine Lane and one additional property on Goose Falls Road.

The project also will include excavation of polychlorinated byphenyl-contaminated soil and mine waste located at the former mine operation area. PCBs, which were banned in 1979, were used in a variety of industrial and commercial applications, including the transformers used at the former mine site. Those contaminated materials will be shipped to an off-site facility licensed to accept PCB waste.

The project also will involve the removal of approximately 211 truckloads of materials from the site and the transportation of about 184 truckloads of material onto the site, according to the EPA. Once the local road restrictions have been lifted, residents can expect to see up to 21 trucks per day going in and out of the former mine site.

EPA officials expect the PCB cleanup to be completed by the end of June and the residential cleanup and restoration work to be done by mid-July. Site grading, stockpile management and other site work for this phase is expected to continue into the fall and be completed by the end of the year.

The contamination comes from the operation of the mine site in the 1960s and early 1970s, during which time the Callahan Mining Co. extracted an estimated 800,000 tons of rock containing copper, zinc, lead and traces of silver from the open-pit mine. About 5 million tons of waste rock containing contaminants also was removed from the mine and deposited on the site.

The Maine Department of Transportation is coordinating the cleanup activities under an agreement with the EPA and is working on a design for the next phase of the cleanup. That phase, which is expected to be more extensive and more expensive, will include disposal of contaminated materials from areas on the mine site into the former open pit mine, which was flooded in 1972 when mine operations ended and is now under water.

The planning and design for that phase of the cleanup is expected to continue through 2013.

The DOT also will continue to study options to clean up contaminated groundwater.

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