December 06, 2019
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The site of one of Maine’s worst chemical pollution disasters has been sold

Lauren Abbate | BDN
Lauren Abbate | BDN
The site of a former chemical pollution disaster has been sold.

HOPE, Maine ― After more than 30 years of remediation efforts, the site of one of the state’s worst chemical pollution disasters has sold to neighbors of the property for $60,000.

The 12.5-acre parcel on Route 17 was the former site of the Union Chemical Co. plant, which handled paint stripping and petrochemical-based solvents. The plant operated there from 1967 until 1984, when the state shut the facility down.

Bruce Melanson and Leslie Robinson, who live across the street from the former Union Chemical Co. site, took ownership of the property earlier this month, according to the Knox County Registry of Deeds.

Melanson and Robinson do not have any immediate plans for the property, according to the Courier Gazette. They purchased the site largely to access property they own behind it.

“We’re really glad that it’s finally back on the tax rolls and not sitting dormant, owned by someone we can’t see,” Hope Town Administrator Samantha Mank said.

The new property owners were not the only party interested in purchasing the site. The town of Camden entered a bid of $1 to purchase the property with the intention of building a municipal solar farm.

The state rejected the offer and instead accepted the offer from neighbors, according to Camden Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has owned the property since the facility’s closure. At the time, there were 2,000 drums and 30 storage tanks of hazardous waste left on site.

During the last three decades, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have spent about $20 million to clean the site’s heavily polluted groundwater and soil. The property was added to the EPA’s National Priorities List — also known as the Superfund site list — in 1989.

During the cleanup, the facility’s buildings and storage containers were decontaminated and disposed of. The soil was decontaminated, and testing concluded there were no off-site effects from the facility’s operations.

Last year, the site was removed from the Superfund list after the completion of the cleanup. Soil and groundwater cleanup efforts removed approximately 95 percent of the site’s contamination.

The EPA determined in 2013 that it was impracticable to restore groundwater at the site to drinking water quality, despite various technologies employed during the cleanup. A deed restriction has been placed on the property that would prohibit the use of groundwater for drinking.

 

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Leslie Robinson’s name.


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