June 06, 2020

Plymouth Superfund site talks under way> Group to hire remediation investigator

BANGOR — Between 70 and 100 representatives of companies, municipalities and individuals that potentially are responsible for the cleanup of a Plymouth Superfund site met Thursday night in Bangor and voted to hire technical help to survey remedial measures.

According to Portland attorney David Littell, who has been hired to represent the “potentially responsible parties” at the former George West waste oil facility, the PRPs had two choices. They could have let the federal Environmental Protection Agency hire a remedial investigator or they could hire one themselves. Either way, the PRPs are paying the tab.

“They decided they could probably do it a lot more efficiently,” Littell said Friday morning.

Negotiations will begin later this month with the EPA, said Littell, because the PRPs must prove they have the legal, technical and financial ability to hire such a person or firm.

“We hadn’t met in over a year,” said Littell, adding that the meeting was held at the Bangor Civic Center. The PRP group was formed last year to respond to EPA’s demands for cleanup costs for the Superfund site from those who shipped waste oil there.

Last December, Littell announced that there would be no litigation between the EPA and the PRPs.

The decision not to pursue PRPs through the court system came about when the last of more than 200 “tolling agreements” was signed. Tolling agreements acknowledge the PRPs’ participation in the waste disposal and extend the time available for settlement.

The site at Howe’s Corner in Plymouth was discovered in 1987 when well water in the area was contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls. A hazardous waste site in the area was blamed for the contamination and eventually targeted for cleanup through the EPA’s Superfund.

The EPA cleanup and the installation of a municipal water system to serve the affected homes totaled about $6 million.

The negotiations with the PRPs are intended to recoup the cost.

Portland and Bangor Waste Oil received waste oil from more than 500 businesses and communities from throughout the state. The company reportedly sold the salvageable oil and disposed of the sludge residue at the Plymouth site and at other sites in the state, including Wells and Ellsworth. One group estimated 244,537 gallons of oil was received at the site.

As of December 1998, 233 parties have signed on as PRPs through the negotiated tolling agreements, Littell said.

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