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EPA begins $1 million cleanup of historic building in Bellow Falls, VT

Release Date: 09/29/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will begin cleanup work this week at an abandoned, historic mill complex in Bellows Falls, VT that is contaminated with asbestos and other hazardous materials. Portions of the building have collapsed and will be dismantled and removed.

The Superfund removal work, which will begin today, is taking place at the TLR Mill Complex at 1 Mill Road, just off downtown square. The EPA-funded project is expected to cost about $1 million.

All of the mill complex, which was used as a paper manufacturing facility from 1869 to 1986, has widespread contamination problems, including high concentrations of asbestos in multiple building locations as well as tanks, drums and containers. While some of the contents in the containers are unknown, some were found to contain various toxic solvents, including tetrachlorethane.

Older portions of the mill complex, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The basement appears to contain the remnants of the nation's first transportation canal constructed from 1792 to 1802.

"Given the historic value of this property, EPA and its contractors will make every effort possible to protect the structural and cultural integrity of these buildings," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Our focus will be removing all environmental threats and dismantling parts of the structure that have collapsed or are close to collapsing."

The work is being done in consultation with the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. It is also being coordinated with the Village of Bellows Falls and the Town of Rockingham, which took joint ownership of the buildings and one-acre property in 1991 in lieu of unpaid taxes and fees.

From 1872 to the late 1980s, the property was owned by a succession of paper manufacturing companies. After paper manufacturing ceased in the late 1980s, the facility was not maintained.