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Release Date: 07/25/1996
Contact Information: Edward Hathaway, EPA Remedial Project Manager; (617)573-5782 Sarah White, Community Involvement Coordinator; (617) 918-1026

BOSTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency, in cooperation with the State of Maine and the City of Saco, is proposing to accelerate the construction of a multi-layer landfill cap on two uncovered areas of the Saco Municipal Landfill in Maine and also remove contaminated sediments from a nearby brook.

The proposal, called an "engineering evaluation/cost analysis," came after sampling revealed elevated levels of arsenic, manganese and iron in the groundwater and sediment. Under the plan, Areas Three and Four will be capped and contaminated sediments in a seep along Sandy Brook will be excavated.

"This action shows once and for all that EPA can indeed get the job done in a timely manner without jeopardizing public safety," said John P. DeVillars, administrator for the EPA's New England office. "Our two partners in this effort -- the City of Saco and the Maine DEP -- have done a bang-up job in working with us to protect the health and environment of those who live, work and play in Saco."

"When I was first elected Mayor, one of my priorities was to finally close our landfill. We are now on the verge of doing just that," said Mark Johnston, City of Saco Mayor. "While it is unfortunate that today's taxpayers will have to pay for the sins of past residents and administrations, through a true cooperative effort with EPA and the DEP, we have managed to reduce the projected financial burdens to Saco's residents, while insuring the public's health. Too often we hear that government doesn't work anymore. This Superfund process, by utilizing innovation, cooperation and trust, shows how government can and should work to everyone's benefit."

The City of Saco has been performing the investigations at the site under an administrative order signed last year between the EPA, Maine DEP and the City of Saco. The three parties have worked together to complete the first phase of investigations and develop the reports that describe the proposed actions.

"Although there are multiple levels and forms of government involved here, we have been able to move into cleanup mode well ahead of schedule." said Edward O. Sullivan, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. "I'm proud of the teamwork that made this happen. It's a great example of public agencies working together for public benefit."

The proposed cap is a multi-layer impermeable cover system made of natural and synthetic materials that will help reduce infiltration of water into the landfill. The cap will significantly reduce the generation of wastewater and begin the process of restoring the ground and surface water to appropriate federal standards.

The EPA expects the cap to be in place by the summer of 1997 under an accelerated cleanup model the agency applies for certain sites. Had the agency followed standard procedure, the cap would not have been constructed until at least 1999.

The Saco Municipal Landfill is a 90-acre site owned and operated by the city. From 1960 to 1989, the landfill accepted industrial and household wastes, and tannery sludge, which contained heavy metals such as chromium. Approximately 90 percent of the landfill's drainage runs into Sandy Brook, which flows through the site. The landfill was named a Superfund site in 1990.

The EPA is encouraging public input in selecting the cleanup alternative. The public will have the following opportunities to learn more about the proposed activities at the Saco Municipal Landfill Superfund Site:

    • The EPA, Maine DEP, and City of Saco officials will be available to describe the proposal and answer questions on Wednesday, July 31, at 7 p.m. an informal public meeting at the Saco Middle School Library on Buxton Road.
    • On Wednesday, Aug. 21 the EPA will hold a formal public hearing. During the hearing, the public is invited to provide formal oral comment on the proposed cleanup alternative at the hearing. Comments taken at the formal hearing will be recorded as part of the official public record.
    • The EPA will also accept written comments on the cleanup alternative from Aug. 1 through 30.
All comments will be addressed in a document called the responsiveness summary which will be placed for review in the information repository at the Dyer Library in Saco and at the EPA Records Center in Boston. The sample results are also available for review at these two locations.

Written comments should be submitted to:
EPA Project Manager Ed Hathaway
Mailcode HBT
U.S. EPA, Region 1
JFK Federal Building
Boston, MA 02203

Directions to Saco Middle School:
From I-95 take exit 5 (Saco). Take first right after toll. Take left at the end of the road and a right at the lights onto Buxton Road. Saco Middle School is on the left.

From Saco City Hall: Follow US Route 1 north to the intersection of Buxton Road. Take a left onto Buxton Road. Saco Middle School is on the left.