Cleanup grant sought for Tannery Park

By Susan Mustapich | Nov 09, 2017

CAMDEN — The town of Camden will apply for a federal Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Cleanup grant to cap part of the Tannery Park property with soil and landscaping in order to prevent contact with residual chemicals in the soil left from tannery businesses formerly sited there.

The Camden Select Board Nov. 7 approved the plan to apply for the grant. In 2008, extensive environmental cleanup was completed on a different part of the property, where significant chemical contamination was found. The area of the property targeted for the new grant is currently home to the Camden Farmer's Market, and there are plans for a children's play area.

Camden could receive up to $160,000, with the town contributing a $40,000 in-kind match, according to Audra Caler-Bell's Oct. 6 Town Manager's Report. The engineering required to develop the park and commercial portion of the site can be covered by the grant.

Tannery Park on Washington Street was the site of the Apollo Tannery from 1954 to 1999.

The town acquired the property in March 2003, when Apollo Tannery filed bankruptcy, still owing back taxes. In 2005, the town secured financing, in cooperation with federal and state environmental agencies, for cleanup of the portion of the property where the tannery operations were located. The financing included a 20-year bond totaling $836,000, with an annual payment of $60,783, and a federal grant. The environmental remediation work was completed in 2008. The town is still repaying the bond, according to Caler-Bell.

In May 2016, the Tannery Work Group invited representatives from Ransom Consulting Inc. and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to attend a community meeting and review the type and amount of chemicals in the surface soil on the unremediated area of the property. Consultants explained that the level of chemicals found in the top two feet of soil was similar to chemicals found around paved areas and parking lots anywhere in Camden. Two chemicals located in surface soils, benzo(a)pyrene and arsenic, were found in the majority of the 18 soil samples collected at the site. Surface soil concentrations of benzo(a)pyrene were higher at the site compared with surrounding areas.

At the time, Ransom recommended remediating the site to prevent contact with the existing soil. The suggested options included covering the property with fill, soil and grass, and restrictions prohibiting groundwater extraction for drinking water, such as drinking fountains. The property is served by a public water system.

Courier Publications assistant editor Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at smustapich@villagesoup.com.

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