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EPA Completes Cleanup in Henniker, N.H.

Release Date: 12/01/2003
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Involvement Office, 617-918-1064

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency completed a $ 350,000 cleanup across the street from the former Contoocook Valley Paper Company (CVPC) mill on Western Avenue in Henniker, New Hampshire. EPA removed approximately 1,500 tons of soil contaminated with heavy metals –– lead, cadmium, barium and chromium.

The soils were excavated and transported to licensed facilities for safe disposal. The excavated areas of the property were filled with clean material and re-graded. EPA will be meeting with town officials and the Henniker Paperrmill Site Restoration Committee before returning in the spring to seed and complete any additional necessary restoration of the property.

"The soil contamination at this site posed a risk to residents accessing the site, and needed to be cleaned up." said Robert W. Varney, EPA New England regional administrator. "EPA''s smart growth agenda also seeks to support local efforts to get value out of properties that are abandoned or underused because of contamination. In the long run, this saves valuable open space that is already at a premium in many New England communities."

"DES is committed to helping NH communities revitalize their Brownfield sites and we were pleased to provide assistance to the town of Henniker. This work will help them to develop the former mill site as a valuable community resource," said DES Commissioner Michael Nolin.

"The cleanup went smoothly,"" said Dan Wainberg, EPA''s on-scene coordinator. ""The weather held out for us this fall and we were able to complete the cleanup on schedule. Removing the contaminated soils clears the way for redevelopment of this property."

EPA had provided Brownfields funding to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services that was used in part to investigate potential contamination on the Eastern Parcel property. The state spent $150,000 in its site assessment and found surface and subsurface soils contaminated with heavy metals, resulting from sludge that had been buried by CVPC when the mill was in operation. The town of Henniker had taken the property for delinquent taxes several years ago.

The Henniker Paperrmill Site Restoration Committee is working on plans to redevelop the site, adjacent to the Contoocook River.

Last week EPA announced that the Contoocook River Restoration project in Henniker, NH, received $15,000 to remove the 18- foot-high, 137-foot-long West Henniker Dam located approximately a quarter of a mile upstream from the former CVPC site on the Contoocook River. The project, funded through the NH Department of Environmental Services Water Division, is being done in partnership with DES, the town of Henniker, the Henniker Conservation Commission and New England College, as well as other organizations.

The dam removal project is a priority for the New Hampshire River Restoration Task Force, made up of local, state and federal entities. The dam's removal will restore 15 miles of the Contoocook River to free-flowing conditions and high quality habitat for trout, Atlantic salmon and American eel. In addition, the project will eliminate a public safety hazard, increase recreational opportunities and educate the public about rivers and river restoration.