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Contaminated mine in Brooksville will get funds from infrastructure bill for cleanup

The U.S. EPA estimates roughly $20 million is still needed to finish cleaning up the former Callahan mine.

BROOKSVILLE, Maine — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced $1 billion from President Biden's Infrastructure Law passed in November will fund cleaning up a backlog of 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites across the nation.

There are thousands of Superfund sites around the country due to hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open, or otherwise improperly managed, according to the EPA. The sites include manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills, and mining sites.

A contaminated former mine in Brooksville is the only site of Maine's 16 Superfund sites on the National Priorities List to receive cleanup funding from the infrastructure bill. 

Precious metals were mined at the Callahan Mining Corporation site took place from the late 1800s until resources were depleted and the mine closed in 1972. 

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“The methods they had then needed something to be desired,” said Chairman of the Brooksville Board of Selectmen John Gray. "I happened to work at [the mine] when it was running, you know, everybody liked it then. They were making money, but we didn't realize how much contamination was going on.” 

In the early 2000s, the EPA did a series of investigations at the site. Arsenic and lead contamination were discovered in the soil and rock. PCBs, a group of man-made chemicals that can be harmful to humans, were also found.

“We have the site pretty well addressed for the current situation, but we also want to make sure the site is protected long term," said Ed Hathaway, the EPA's project manager for the mine who has overseen the on-and-off cleanup at the site since it started in 2010. 

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Hathaway told NEWS CENTER Maine the estimated cost for the removal of contaminated sediment work is $12 million. The additional funding needed to complete the work already underway is $8 million. 

“We want to make sure when we walk away, the site is safe for human health and the environment. This money and completing these projects will help us do that," said Hathaway. 

The EPA told NEWS CENTER Maine, the agency is expected to announce how much money the project will get in the next few weeks.

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