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Release Date: 07/02/1997
Contact Information: Erin Heskett, (617) 918-1054

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has reached an agreement with the city of Saco and 11 other settling parties to construct a $6 million landfill cap over the two remaining uncovered portions of the Saco Municipal Landfill in Maine.

Under the agreement, the settling parties will cap areas 3 and 4 of the landfill, pay any costs that the EPA incurs if the agency has to take over the settling parties' obligations, and pay the EPA's enforcement and access costs, as well as any oversight costs in excess of $400,000. The settlement also employs a concept known as "orphan share reform," which releases the settling parties, including the city, from the obligation to pay roughly $1.5 million in past cleanup costs.

"This agreement will carry the cleanup of the Saco Landfill down the home stretch -- without unnecessarily breaking the bank of the settling parties," said John P. DeVillars, administrator for the EPA's New England office. "Thanks all those who worked together in forging this settlement, local residents -- and those who work and vacation in the area -- will be able to look forward to a cleaner, safer Saco."

The remaining 11 settling parties will pay approximately $1 million to the city to help pay for the work, which is expected to be completed by October. The city has completed the design of the landfill cap and its contractor, H.E. Sargent, has started construction work at the Site.

The project consists of the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a landfill cap and leachate collection system, and implementation of a long-term monitoring program along with measures to protect the effectiveness of the cap. The agreement also requires the excavation of contaminated sediments from an area close to the landfill and consolidating them with waste material in the landfill to minimize the extent of the cover system.

The official 30-day public comment period concerning this agreement, having started on June 20 and running through July 19, was recently announced in the Portland Press Herald.

Located in southeastern Maine, the 90-acre landfill is inactive and consists of four waste disposal areas that occupy approximately 26 acres. The city operated the landfill from 1963-1988 accepting solid, commercial and industrial wastes.

Following reports of surface water and groundwater contamination originating from landfill Area 1, the State of Maine began investigating the site in 1974. In February 1976, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection ordered the city of Saco to abate leachate migration from Area 1.

Additionally, in 1981, the state required the city of Saco to submit a closure plan for the entire landfill. Pursuant to this order, the city installed a leachate collection system and covered Area 1 with a clay cap. The city also installed a leachate recirculation system in Area 2 and covered this area with a clay cap.

In a separate action from 1985-1991, the city allowed temporary storage of solid waste from Nike, Inc. in Area 3. This waste was subsequently transported off site for incineration. Area 4 of the landfill has been graded and is covered with a thin layer of soil.

For the past several years, the city of Saco and its contractors, the EPA, Maine DEP and the U.S. Geological Survey have performed numerous studies aimed at determining the nature and extent of groundwater and soil contamination at the site.