News Feature

Boston, MA
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, January 6, 2022
EPA announces plans to clean up the Superfund site in Brooksville
Funding to come from new infrastructure law

On December 17, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a $1 billion investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to initiate cleanup and clear the backlog of 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites across the nation, including Callahan Mining Corporation in Brooksville, according to a press release. Until this historic investment, this site was a part of a backlog of hazardous waste sites awaiting funding. Thousands of contaminated sites exist nationally due to hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open or otherwise improperly managed. These sites include manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills and mining sites.

“This site has been plagued with legacy contamination that, until now, EPA has not had the funding to clean up,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. “Getting this site off of the backlog list and cleaned up is a very important step for Brooksville to envision potential future uses for this area.”

The $1 billion investment is the first wave of funding from the $3.5 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help clean up polluted Superfund sites in communities across the country. The backlog of previously unfunded sites that will now be receiving funding in New England are located in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont.

The Callahan Mining Corporation site, added to the National Priorities List in 2002, has been awaiting funding to complete the current phase of cleanup at the site since 2019, according to the release. The site, located on the northwestern side of Cape Rosier on Penobscot Bay in Brooksville, is a former copper and zinc mine that operated from 1968 to 1972. The site includes a (now submerged) 300-foot-deep open pit mine, former mine operations area, a series of waste rock piles and a tailings impoundment. Arsenic and lead contamination are found in the site’s soil and rock. Copper, lead and zinc are present in the sediments at concentrations above levels that are acceptable for ecological receptors. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in the area where the former Callahan Mine operations facilities were located as well.

EPA has studied and designed groundwater and sediment clean-up options for the site, but more work to implement the clean-up still needs to be done. Past work at the site included stabilizing the tailing dam and closing the tailing impoundment. Future work at the site will focus on the sediment clean-up activities, which will include sediment excavation and dredging for the salt marsh, Goose Pond, Dyer Cove and Goose Cove.

“This new Superfund investment to clean up the Callahan Mine Site is good news for Brooksville and Hancock County. By continuing the EPA’s work with the State of Maine, this funding will help clean up the mine site and protect the community around it from polluted discharges,” said U.S. Congressman Jared Golden, according to the release. “This project was funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which I was proud to help pass. I’m glad to see this and other projects funded by this law get under way across Maine.”

EPA is finalizing clean-up plans and preparing funding mechanisms to get construction work started as soon as possible. More information about funding for backlogged sites and accelerated clean-up sites will be available in the coming weeks.

Superfund history

In 1980, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, known as Superfund, was passed. The novel law gave EPA the authority and funds to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up the most contaminated sites across the country. When no viable responsible party is found or cannot afford the cleanup, funds appropriated by Congress are used. A tax on chemical and petroleum industries provided funds to the Superfund Trust fund for Superfund cleanups up until 1995. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law reinstates the chemical excise taxes and invests an additional $3.5 billion in environmental remediation at Superfund sites, making it one of the largest investments in American history to address the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods, according to the release.

For more information and to see a list of the 49 sites to receive funding for new clean-up projects, visit epa.gov/superfund/superfund-sites-new-construction-projects-receive-bipartisan-infrastructure-law-funding.

For more information about EPA’s Superfund program, see epa.gov/superfund.