OXFORD — The Department of Environmental Protection has told the president of Robinson Manufacturing Co. that it has reconsidered a promise to show “discretion” in its enforcement action regarding the wastewater treatment plant at the former woolen mill.
In a letter dated June 25 from the DEP to John C. Robinson of Raymond, state officials said the department’s earlier assurances no longer apply because Robinson failed to meet the conditions of the enforcement action.
Electrical power to the village mill on King Street was shut off June 2, which resulted in the shutdown of the wastewater treatment plant. The plant services an eight-unit apartment complex on King Street and the town hall on Pleasant Street. Wastewater has been manually pumped to the facility since that time but can not be treated without electrical power.
The state had promised to show “discretion” in its enforcement action if Robinson met certain conditions by June 22. Because he has failed to move far enough ahead with the sewage treatment plan, the town has also moved to evict tenants from the apartment house, which Robinson owns.
On June 7, Robinson was mandated by the state to make sure all water discharged met the effluent quality limits of the permit and that wastewater coming into the facility cease by June 22 until a new license was obtained and electrical power was restored. A plan also had to be submitted to the department by June 22 for disposal of untreated waste and sludge from the facility.
According to the June 25 letter from Brian Kavanah, director of division of water quality management in the Bureau of Land and Water Quality, two of the three conditions have not been met.
Town Manager Michael Chammings said the apartment house occupants have been given a 30-day notice to leave. He said the town has evicted the tenants because of the danger to their health caused by the lack of a proper sewage system.
Kavanah has told Robinson he must immediately get proper permitting and install a subsurface disposal system for the residences and business that currently discharge water to the mill treatment plant.
Chammings said that Robinson received the permits on Friday but has failed to meet deadlines for installing the system. The state has also mandated that Robinson make provisions with the DEP for disposal of sludge and untreated waste. The town hall was connected to the mill treatment plant until it recently dug its own leaching field and connected with an existing underground service.
Robinson, a state legislator and a sixth-generation member of the Robinson mill family, presented a plan to town officials in 2007 to convert the mill to residential and commercial uses, including a restaurant, retail shops and 64 living units for about $14 million. But economic conditions have thwarted that effort.
Last March, the town foreclosed on the 7.5 acre property on the northern end of Thompson Lake after $244,920 in taxes went unpaid over the last three years. The property also includes a three-story brick mill building, dam and other buildings assessed at $3.8 million. The mill, which started operation in the 1860s, closed in 2003.

The DEP says that wastewater is continuing to flow to the former Robinson woolen mill wastewater treatment plant, which has no electricity. The mill is in Oxford village on the northern end of Thompson Lake.

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