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Feds designate $21 million for cleanup of Brooksville Superfund site

In this Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016 photo, a a landfill is seen at the site of the Callahan Mine in Brooksville, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP file
In this Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016 photo, a a landfill is seen at the site of the Callahan Mine in Brooksville, Maine.

The federal government is releasing $21 million to finish the cleanup of a contaminated mine site in Brooksville.

Located on Goose Pond near Penobscot Bay, the Callahan mine left a legacy of heavy metals and PCBs in the area. It was designated a Superfund site almost 20 years ago, and its cleanup proceeded in fits and starts.

John Gray, chairman of the Brooksville Select Board, once worked at the mine, running assays for copper, zinc, silver and gold.

"We've been going for quite a long time. They've been working on this cleanup since the early 2000s I think. But it's coming along. They keep working on it so it will be great to get it finished up," he says.

Edward Hathaway, site supervisor for the Environmental Protection Agency, says direct threats to human health have largely been taken care of, leaving final work to protect ecosystems.

"To clean up the pond. Goose Pond itself as well as Goose Cove, by removing the mine waste that flowed in there while they were operating the mine, get that dredged out. We're actually going to push that into the old pit, which is 300 feet deep on site, and it'll sort of set it aside where it is never accessible to anything else," he says. "Right now we're working on relocating some waste that is leaching higher concentrations of copper zinc into the estuary, impacting the aquatic life."

Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency say the plan is to complete work on the project and close it out within three years. The funding was provided under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which includes $1 billion to clear up a backlog of work on Superfund sites nationwide.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.