Wilton Tannery cleanup discussed at meeting

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WILTON — A proposed cleanup plan for the former Wilton Tannery property on Route 2 calls for completion of the work by the fall.

During a public meeting Tuesday to present the plan, describe the process and solicit comments, town consultant Nicholas Sabatine of Ramson Consulting of Portland said the public comment period ends Feb. 14.

Information on the plan is available for viewing at the Town Office.

Engineering plans will be finalized after that, and the project is expected to go out to bid to find a local cleanup contractor this spring. The work will be undertaken this summer.

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The town received a $200,000 federal Environmental Protection Agency grant in 2012, and a total of $187,000 from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to clean up the site for future economic development.

“We’ve begun the process of cleanup,” Town Manager Rhonda Irish said. “It’s a long process with many stages.”

Asbestos and an underground fuel tank were removed this past fall, Sabatine said. The $37,000 from DECD paid for it.

An area on the southeast section of the 15-acre property in East Wilton has a tannery landfill estimated at 60,000 square feet with waste depths ranging from one to 12 feet, Sabatine said. It includes leather scraps, barrel staves and other materials used in tanning from the late 1950s to mid-1990s. The ground shifts when walked on, he said.

Another concern is a part of the building was used as a dry cleaning site in the 1970s. A chemical used in that process is under the site. A vapor barrier and treatment to change that part of building is needed but it’s easy to do, Sabatine said.

The information was pulled together during Phase I of the project, Wilkes Harper of the federal EPA told residents and selectmen Tuesday. Testing for chemicals and contaminants was undertaken in Phase II.

“There was more landfill than we thought,” he said.

Concentrations of chromium and other contaminants were found in the landfill, affecting ground water from that site, according to the plan. It proposes moving landfill materials to a former wastewater treatment lagoon on the property that was carved down when removed, Sabatine said. The area would then be covered.

Sabatine expected the work to take approximately four to six weeks.

Some residents expressed concerns about contamination of Wilson Stream, which borders the property, and groundwater affecting residents’ wells on the other side of the stream.

“Contaminants are not migrating off site,” Harper said. Testing shows no connectivity between bedrock on both sides of the stream. Testing also reveals the stream is clean, he said.

The cleanup work does not include the building, which is in poor condition with parts of the roof collapsed, according to the report.

The goal of the EPA is site cleanup for development of the property and the creation of jobs, Sabatine said.

Selectman Tom Saviello said the goal is to get the property back on the town’s tax rolls. It will have the benefit of an environmental stamp indicating it’s clean, he said.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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