Funds earmarked to clean old Peru mill


RUMFORD – Persistence pays.

The former Diamond Match mill in Peru will undergo a hazardous waste cleanup thanks to a nearly $123,000 grant from the Brownsfield fund of the Environmental Protection Administration.

“This was our third time attempting to get the grant,” said Rosie Bradley, director of the River Valley Growth Council and the organization that received the grant Friday morning.

The economic development organization had almost decided to put the abandoned, 100,000-square-foot building in Peru out to bid after failing to receive the funds during the two other attempts. But they decided to try for the grant one more time.

The funds will be used to clean up hazardous materials such as asbestos, lead paint and barrels of wastes left from when the match mill went out of business in 1988, Bradley said.

Archie’s Inc. of Mexico turned over the sprawling, vacant mill complex to the growth council almost three years ago. Along with the 1934-built mill complex are five or six adjacent acres.

Bradley said the growth council also has an option to purchase another seven or eight acres adjacent to the site.

She said work will likely begin on the cleanup sometime after July 1. Completion is expected to be by the end of the year, or possibly early next spring.

The growth council is also going after a $77,000 so-called petroleum grant that would be used to clean and remediate the soils surrounding several underground oil storage tanks.

Steve Chase, Brownfields project officer for the New England region of the EPA, said just under 50 applications from the New England states were successful out of about 100 submitted. About $11 million was awarded.

“We are pleased that you folks have this grant. We want to clean up abandoned sites that will allow development,” he said.

Bradley said two or three people have shown interest in setting up some type of business in portions of the old mill.

She said the growth council will continue to work with Peru town officials and with the Maine Department of Transportation on access by the mill to the adjacent railhead.