GRAY – Nearly 20 residents learned Wednesday that soil and groundwater in the area of the McKin Superfind site in Gray will be tested later this month.

The tests will attempt to detect any contamination that may be occurring in the area since the toxic waste dump site was cleaned up about 20 years ago.

Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Maine Department of Environmental Protection and others fielded questions from residents.

The McKin facility opened in 1965 for storage and disposal of liquid wastes and in 1972 expanded. The plant handled and disposed of a mixture of solvents, oils and other chemicals. Approximately 100,000 to 200,000 gallons of waste are thought to have been processed annually.

The 7-acre site is located in a rural residential area one mile east of the center of Gray. The site formerly operated as a sand-and-gravel pit that had been excavated to depths of 6 to 20 feet below the land surface.

Mary Jane O’Donnell of the EPA said, “At the McKin site we do not know if there’s a problem based on the type of contamination in the water, there may be a problem. We want to investigate further.”

The EPA New England Mobile Lab will be on site to perform some of the field analysis while other testing will take place in Chelmsford, Mass.

The sampling program will check for levels of chemical contamination found in 11 volatile organic compounds. The first phase of the study includes 60 roadway locations where soil and groundwater sampling will occur. The roads involved include Mayall, Depot and Route 115. The work is designed to evaluate areas west of the contamination source, to determine whether further investigation or action may be necessary.

A second phase will include vapor studies at 15 to 20 homes to determine if vapor intrusion is occurring in the area.

Area residents and property owners will be asked to participate voluntarily at no cost for the indoor air sampling studies.

While the EPA continues to monitor the contaminated groundwater at the site and surface water at the Royal River and the Boiling Springs area, officials are concerned that contaminants called volatile organic compounds may be migrating as a gas from the shallow groundwater that flows vertically up through soil under the area neighborhood at Depot Hill Road.

The water supplies at the residences surrounding the McKin site were capped and a public water system was extended to the affected area in 1978.

The EPA and Maine’s DEP Superfund cleanup began in the mid-1980s.

Under a legal agreement, the responsible parties removed drums and contaminated soil from the site and performed soil aeration.

A groundwater pump and treatment system was implemented between 1991 and 1995.

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