HAMPDEN, Maine — Work is underway to remove the huge, rusty oil tanks that have stood along the Penobscot River, just over the Bangor line in Hampden, for more than half a century.
Demolition began earlier this week and is expected to be completed no later than Aug. 1, Gulf Oil LP spokeswoman Carin Warner said Wednesday.
“Gulf Oil is working with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to ensure the [effort’s] proper assessment, demolition and closure,” Warner said, adding that the company does not yet have plans for the soon-to-be cleared site.
Gulf acquired the oil terminal complex, located at 799 Main Road North, in 1986 and operated it through 1996, when it was put out of commission. The inactive oil terminal contains four above-ground storage tanks
The tank farm was the subject of a $900,000 settlement between state environmental regulators and former owner Chevron Corp. in July 2011. At that time, the settlement was the largest of its kind in 20 years, according to published reports.
The settlement aimed to remediate a site where an estimated 140,000 gallons of oil leaked into the Penobscot River from the 1950s to the 1980s.
As part of the deal, the town of Hampden received $520,000 for a supplemental environmental project that resulted in the creation of Turtle Head Park, adjacent to Hamlin’s Marina.
The park, which is still a work in progress, has a new parking lot and walking trails. Town officials said earlier this month that the 8.5-acre park eventually will include a kayak and canoe launch and picnic facilities.
The remaining $380,000 went into the Maine Coastal and Inland Surface Oil Clean-up Fund to help ensure that future spills are caught and remedied long before significant damage can be done.
The DEP began to uncover the extent of the site’s environmental problems in 2007 after issuing Chevron a notice of violation that it would investigate potential threats to public and environmental health posed by contamination.
That investigation led to a remediation plan submitted by Chevron that has resulted in the removal of 2,800 tons of oil-contaminated sediment and the recovery of nearly 10,000 gallons of oil at the site.
In signing the settlement, Chevron did not admit any liability, wrongdoing, responsibility or illegal conduct, a spokesman said at the time it was reached. The company said it settled with the state to avoid a protracted legal battle.
Chevron said earlier that it operated its tank farm and marine terminal in Hampden between the 1950s and 1986, when Cumberland Farms Inc. purchased the Gulf Oil brand assets for the Northeast, which included the terminal and tank farm.