Wal-Mart agrees to take environmental precautions at new Thomaston store on top of old junkyard

Posted Aug. 08, 2012, at 5:18 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 09, 2012, at 10:53 a.m.

THOMASTON, Maine — Wal-Mart has agreed to take steps to make sure that there are no health risks associated with its construction of a supercenter on the grounds that included a former junkyard.

Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust agreed July 17 to provide an environmental covenant to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on the site where it plans to build a 150,000-square-foot retail store on Route 1 in Thomaston. The covenant was filed July 24 in the Knox County Registry of Deeds.

The covenant states that the agreement is necessary to prevent unauthorized groundwater extraction and unauthorized change of use; to require the use of a vapor barrier and appropriate soil handling during excavation; and generally to “protect the public health, safety, and the environment.”

Part of the 30-plus acres upon which the shopping center is being built was the site of a junkyard.

Nick Hodgkins, an oil and hazardous material specialist for the DEP, said Tuesday that this type of agreement is not unusual when the site previously has been used for activities such as a junkyard.

Tests of the soil showed some dribs and drabs of oil, he said, but no evidence of anything bad that had to be removed, Hodgkins said.

“We do it as a precaution in case anything was missed,” he said about requiring an environmental agreement with developers.

There is a public water supply on this property, so groundwater use is not an issue. The vapor barrier that is being required is a safeguard, he said. A vapor barrier in this case will be sheets of plastic that will be placed on top of the concrete foundation to prevent vapors from any chemicals in the ground to pass through the concrete, he said. This also will protect against radon, he said.

Hodgkins said he does not know what the cost of the vapor barrier will be but indicated that it would not be expensive, particularly in relation to the cost of the overall project.

Wal-Mart has received its permits to construct the 150,000-square-foot building. The total project cost has been estimated at $28 million.

The company has not announced when construction will begin.

Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to an email request for comment sent Wednesday morning.

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