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Release Date: 09/12/1997
Contact Information: Erin Heskett, Community Involvement Coordinator (617) 918-1054 Mike McGagh, TAG Program Manager (617) 223-5534

BOSTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Maine Rural Water Association, a local citizen's group, a $50,000 technical assistance grant to oversee cleanup activities at the McKin Superfund Site in Gray, Maine.

Gray community leaders formed the MRWA McKin Citizens' Advisory Group in March 1996 to address mounting concerns about cleanup work at the McKin Superfund Site. The group is currently participating in a mediation process underway for the site cleanup. The mediation committee -- comprised of representatives of the Town of Gray, the Gray and Yarmouth Water District, neighbors to the site, Gray area business owners, Friends of the Royal River, potentially responsible parties, and state and federal agencies -- is working to reach consensus on any future activities or arrangements associated with the site.

"The Maine Rural Water Association's hard work paid off in the end, as they received the quickest turnaround that any group has experienced in our technical assistance grant program," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of the EPA's New England office. "Now, they will have the independent expertise to weigh in on the cleanup discussions at this critical point and ensure that the McKin Superfund cleanup stays on the right course."

The technical assistance grant program was established in 1986 as part of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act . The grant provides concerned citizens the opportunity to hire independent technical experts, such as toxicologists, chemists, and biologists, to help them interpret complex technical information and site hazards related to cleanup work at federal Superfund sites. The New England office of the EPA has awarded 31 grants to date. It normally takes approximately six months for a citizens group to complete the TAG application process.

The McKin site covers approximately seven acres of land southwest of Gray. The McKin facility, a collection and transfer station for waste oil and industrial process waste, was constructed in 1972 on property previously used as a sand and gravel pit. From 1972-1977, the facility handled between 100,000 and 200,000 gallons of waste annually.

Volatile organic compounds from the facility contaminated local residential wells through the groundwater, prompting an EPA Superfund cleanup starting in the mid 1980's. Under a legal agreement, the responsible parties for the contamination designed and implemented a groundwater cleanup system that operated from 1991-1995. The EPA and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection approved a temporary shutdown of the system in 1995 so that the parties could evaluate alternatives for the site's cleanup. This evaluation included an assessment of the feasibility and cost of groundwater restoration, containment, mitigation and institutional controls.

Prior to applying for a technical assistance grant, MRWA posted a front page add in the local paper inviting anyone interested to join the group. The group formally applied at the end of June and received official notice of its award within five weeks.

For more information on the McKin Superfund Site cleanup, contact Erin Heskett, EPA at (617) 918-1054. For those Gray area residents interested in joining the TAG effort, contact Chris Simpson at (207) 729-6569.