LINCOLN, Maine — It would cost about $16 million to remove asbestos and other above-ground toxins from the former Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC site, according to a state-commissioned study of the 203-acre property.
Sevee & Maher Engineers Inc. of Cumberland found no health or environmental hazards requiring immediate attention when its engineers examined the bankrupt mill’s 38 buildings in September, said Susanne Miller, the regional director of Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s eastern Maine regional office.
By far the largest single contaminant discovered was cancer-causing asbestos. The engineers also found within the buildings small amounts of polychlorinated biphenyl and lead-based paints, plus minor contaminants such as fluorescent lights and computer screens, said Lisa L. Turner, a senior project engineer at Sevee & Maher Engineers.
“We answered the basic question of, how bad are these buildings? But there is a lot more work to be done,” Turner said Friday.
The report estimates that removing the asbestos will cost $12.4 million, but adds an additional 30 percent for contingencies and undiscovered issues, plus for the design of the asbestos removal process, Turner said.
“This is a very, very big job,” Turner said.
Engineers from the firm discovered the heaviest concentrations of asbestos in four mill buildings: the pulp mill, recovery boiler room, paper mill area and power house, according to the executive summary of the 200-plus page report.
Remediating asbestos from those buildings, among the largest on the site, will cost $1 million to $4 million each, according to the report. Sixteen other buildings on site will cost $2,000 to $30,000 to fix, the report states.
The rest have no apparent or significant environmental or health issues, Turner said.
The company, which earned about $76,000 for its work, gave its report to the Department of Environmental Protection on Nov. 14. The town received copies last week.
The inventory is critical to safeguarding the town against environmental or health issues. The buildings are not heated and might not continue to bear subzero temperatures or heavy snowloads, Peggy Daigle, Lincoln’s interim town manager, said.
The inventory also will help town and state officials apply for cleanup grants, Daigle said.
“We are still evaluating all of our options,” Miller said. “We are looking to find out where can we find resources to help us with cleanup and that we have to look at money, all the different players involved, and” craft a strategy.
The engineers did not examine any below-ground toxins at the site, which had been home to paper mills since 1882, according to the Lincoln Historical Society. Daigle said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is assisting the state, has agreed to mark any areas within the 203 acres that are free of toxins and thus developable.
Town officials hope to begin site remediation or marketing next year.
Located off West Broadway and Main Street, the site at the end of Katahdin Avenue is an ideal industrial location at the center of Lincoln. It has already been investigated by one potential tenant, a small business that town officials hope to find a location for in town, Daigle said.
“If there is potential to relocate a business there,” Daigle said, “we will.”