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Release Date: 07/22/1999
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Affairs Office, (617) 918-1064

Boston - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today added the Eastland Woolen Mill site in Corinna, Maine, to the National Priorities List (commonly known as the Superfund), following a 60-day public comment period. Inclusion on the Superfund allows federal money to be spent to cleanup toxic contamination. The government can later recoup its costs from current and past owners of the property.

"This is good news for Corinna. The mill site offers an opportunity for economic growth and development for this community, once the site is cleaned up," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England administrator. "I look forward to that day."

"I am very pleased that the EPA has designated the Eastland Woolen Mill for placement on the Superfund National Priorities List. This decision makes further contamination sampling and cleanup efforts of the now-closed mill a priority that is worthy of Federal funding. The cleanup of this hazardous waste will provide the residents of Corinna with crucial protection from any potential health risks that could result from future well water contamination. I hope demolition of the mill and cleanup of the East Branch of the Sebasticook River, which flows directly under the mill, will help foster renewed economic development for the region and have a positive effect on the environment of the entire watershed," remarked U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe.

"I am pleased that the EPA has named the Eastland Woolen Mill site in Corinna to the Superfund list," said U.S. Senator Susan Collins. "Town officials have worked hard to overcome the financial hardship caused by the mill's closing, and I've joined their efforts to gain Superfund status for the site. This designation will bring to bear the resources of the federal government, allowing the property to be redeveloped."

"I am pleased that the Environmental Protection Agency will be adding the Eastland Woolen Mill to its national Priorities List. This designation should expedite the appropriation of federal funds to clean up and restore the site. In doing so, the EPA will be aiding the effort to make the former mill location suitable for future community and economic development purposes. This work will also address public health and safety concerns by safeguarding the area's water sources," said Congressman John Baldacci.

"The citizens in Corinna have worked non-stop since Eastland's closing in 1996 toward the town's economic redevelopment," said Steven R. Buck, chairman of the board for the town of Corinna. "The listing of the former Eastland site on the National Priorities List has been identified by Corinna's Revitalization Committee and town government as the cornerstone of a foundation of future economic prosperity."

The Eastland Woolen Mill site is a 21-acre parcel located on the north side of Main Street, and consists of the large 250,000 square foot mill building, several smaller buildings and two dams . The original mill structure was built around the turn of the century. The Eastland Woolen Mill Company used a dye aid chemical containing chlorobenzene in its wool production process, and discharged wastewater containing spent chemicals into the East Branch of the Sebasticook River which flows under the mill.

In 1983, drinking water wells along Main Street in Corinna near the mill were found to be contaminated with volatile organic compounds. An employee from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection visited a Corinna restaurant and noticed a peculiar odor and taste. This led to sampling and analysis which revealed contaminated groundwater drawn from a bedrock well.

EPA, working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has already completed much of the field work for the initial investigation of the site to understand the extent of contaminated soil beneath the mill structure. Dozens of soil samples have been analyzed and indicate the presence of chlorobenzene, dichlorobenzene, trichlorobenzene, and oils in these soils.