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Cleanup Complete at Pownal Tannery Superfund site in Pownal, VT

Release Date: 10/19/04
Contact Information:

Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1008

For Immediate Release: October 19, 2004; Release # 04-10-32

POWNAL, VT -- Flanked by community residents, state officials and local officials, the regional administrator of EPA's New England Office today visited the Pownal Tannery Superfund site in Pownal, VT to celebrate the recent completion of a $8.4 million cleanup at the property.

The celebration took place at a former lagoon area on the 28-acre property which has been cleaned up over the last year as the third and final phase of the Superfund cleanup. The town is planning to build a wastewater treatment plant at the site and other recreational uses for the property are being evaluated as well.

"The cleanup of the Pownal Tannery site is a great Superfund success story," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office, which has spent more than $23 million on the overall cleanup. "It is a shining example of what federal, state and local officials can achieve when they work together toward a shared goal."

"This project builds on a long history of effective partnerships between the state of Vermont and EPA," added Jeffrey Wennberg, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. "Most importantly, it's made a real difference for the community of North Pownal."

Placed on the Superfund list in 1999, the extensive investigation and cleanup effort on the site took just under six years. Among the keys of the project was the town receiving a Superfund Redevelopment Initiative grant to plan for future reuse of the site. The reuse plan for the tannery property was completed in 2001 by a consultant hired by the town.

"The Town of Pownal is very grateful for all the support and effort put forth by EPA and the Vermont agencies," said Nelson Brownell, a Pownal selectman. "Because of everyone's support, and now the completion of the Superfund cleanup, the town will be able to move forward into the future with its vision for a large recreational complex and a town wastewater treatment facility on the site."

Before reusing the property, tannery buildings located on Dean Road were demolished and contaminated soils were removed and placed in a nearby tannery landfill on the opposite side of the the Hoosic River. EPA constructed a multi-layered cap over this landfill, which was completed in 2002. Cleanup of the lagoon area was initiated in 2003, and included excavation, consolidation and capping of contaminated lagoon sludge. This action was completed in September 2004 and concludes EPA's multi-phased cleanup at the site.

Prior to the site's listing, EPA's investigations revealed widespread contamination of the tannery property and an emergency removal was conducted in 1993 to remove contaminated materials from the former tannery building.

The Pownal Tannery specialized in chrome tanning of sheepskins which began operations in 1937. Tannery wastes, including chromium, a toxic metal, were dumped into large open unlined lagoons near the tannery building. The site became vacant after the Pownal Tannery Corp. filed for bankruptcy in 1988.

Related Information:
 Pownal Tannery Site Fact Sheet
Superfund in New England