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EPA and Maine DEP to Complete Cleanup at Brewer Mill

Release Date: 06/10/04
Contact Information: Contact: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Involvement Office, (617) 918-1064 Deb Garrett, Maine DEP, 207-287-7830

For Immediate Release: June 10, 2004; Release # 04-06-09

BOSTON -- EPA will begin work next week to complete the removal of thousands of gallons of hazardous materials and other bulk chemical from the 43-acre site of the former Eastern Pulp and Paper Company in Brewer, Maine. When the plant was vacated in March, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) took initial action to secure and consolidate hazardous materials found at the plant. These joint efforts will reduce significant and imminent threats to the public and the environment.

Today, EPA Regional Administrator Robert W. Varney announced that the federal agency has set aside $500,000 to pay for disposal and cleanup of chemicals, hazardous material and other waste at the site, which sits on the Penobscot River. EPA and MDEP will also coordinate efforts to sell or remove other remaining chemicals that can be reused or recycled.

"This site is a top priority for both the federal EPA and the state DEP," said Varney. "We will continue to work with the state and take the steps necessary to make sure the chemicals and pollution are cleaned up so that the site no longer poses a threat to the environment or to nearby residences, some of them within a block of the factory."

DEP Commissioner Dawn Gallagher says that the state appreciates EPA's assistance. "Maine responders have been involved with this site for over three months, and we certainly welcome and greatly appreciate EPA's help. Both DEP and EPA as well as other state agencies are committed to working with the city to facilitate safe and productive use of the property, putting as many workers back to work as possible."

The Connecticut-based First Paper Holding Corp. bought certain assets of Eastern Pulp and Paper Co. last month. The transaction involved properties in Lincoln and Brewer, and the new owners have begun to restart manufacturing operations at the Lincoln plant. The Brewer site was transferred to the city of Brewer, and the city requested that EPA and MDEP remove the chemicals remaining on the property.

Eastern Pulp and Paper declared bankruptcy under Chapter 11 in 2000 and in January of this year laid off all 750 employees. In February of this year, a federal judge converted the bankruptcy status from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7, which is liquidation. Responding quickly to the Court's decision, Governor Baldacci issued an Executive Order authorizing response actions to minimize the risk posed by the presence of hazardous materials and toxic chemicals.

A tour of the plant by officials from EPA and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection found hundreds of 55-gallon drums or larger containers, hundreds of pails and bagged products, several bulk tanks throughout the facility, several PCB transformers, and a large propane tank.

The inventory of chemicals identified included drummed and bulk solvents, flammables, acids, caustics, biocides, oxidizers and water reactives. Many of these chemicals are regulated by federal hazardous waste laws.

Related Information:
Hazardous Waste