AUBURN — The Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments was awarded $800,000 to clean up local hazardous waste sites Wednesday, part of $3.2 million split by 10 communities in Maine.

Funds could eventually go toward projects such as cleanup at Bates Mill No. 5.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King announced the federal funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a joint news release. The pair said they originally asked for an assessment for the Brownfields Program two years ago.

Brownfields are sites with hazardous substances or contamination left behind that makes properties unusable until it’s taken care of.

AVCOG’s award was the largest of the 10 announced Wednesday.

AVCOG Executive Director Amy Landry said the funds will be available for work in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties starting in October.

“All applicants have to apply to us to be eligible for the program and to have an application approved,” she said. “There is potential for projects like Bates Mill, but it’s not earmarked for that.”

It’s the first time AVCOG has received brownfield cleanup funds; past funding has been for site assessments.

“The goal of our program has been to redevelop and reuse, whether they’re actually contaminated sites or they’re sites that have some sort of environmental impacts that may be perceived or real,” Landry said.

Assessments gauge just how much work needs to be done to bring a location back, she said.

“Where it’s a cleanup, you know what’s there, what needs to be done,” Landry said. “This allows us to have the opportunity to have a pot of money to go remediate it, to make it productive (again.)”

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