Archives for Penobscot Bay

WERU News Report 6/3/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Segment 1: Maine People’s Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council went back to court today in their years-long battle to force the corporations responsible for the mercury contamination in the Penobscot River to clean it up, using the best methods available. We join them at a press conference outside the courthouse

Segment 2: Attorney Kim Tucker has sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, outlining new information that she says warrants putting the Searsport dredge and dump plan on hold and re-opening the public comment period. She explains why.

WERU News Report 5/6/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Continuing with our on-going coverage of the Searsport dredge and dump controversy, today we hear the impressions of Penobscot bay lobstermen and people who work in the shell fish industry, following a private presentation by state and federal officials, organized by the Maine Lobstermen’s Association

WERU News Report 4/30/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Segment 1: It’s not unusual to hear of small businesses struggling, and eventually being forced to close, especially in this economy—but it IS unusual when a community rallies to save them. News broke earlier this month that Coastal Farm and Food in Belfast was shutting down. The local farmers and food producers who relied on them were being forced to move out. But some local residents decided they weren’t going to let that happen, at least not without a fight. Here to tell that story are two of the people most closely involved (Steve Fein and Peter Wilkinson):

Segment 2: The problem of mercury contamination in the lower Penobscot river and upper bay has been receiving a lot of attention in recent weeks, after it forced the closure of the lobster and crab fisheries in the area. State officials estimate that it will be at least 2 years before the area is re-opened. But work to expose and deal with the source of the mercury from the former Holtrachem plant started more than 20 years ago, led by a grassroots movement of concerned area residents, the Maine People’s Alliance, and other environmental groups. Over the years, the Maine People’s Alliance has pursued the issue through the court system, winning a series of rulings forcing the former owners of the Holtrachem plant, a giant corporation called Mallinkrodt, to address contamination at the site in Orrington, as well as in the river. Their next big day in court is coming up in June, and they are inviting anyone who is concerned about the issue to join them in court on the opening day, June 3rd. At a presentation in Stockton Springs Saturday, Nancy Galland, one of the plaintiffs in the case, gave some background on the issue:

WERU News Report 3/18/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

The Maine Department of Marine Resources held a public hearing in Bucksport last night, as part of their process of the closure of the lobster and crab fisheries near the mouth of the Penobscot River due to elevated mercury levels. The department became aware of the elevated levels after they were given results from independent testing done in association with the Maine People’s Alliance’s decade long legal battle over the clean up of the former Holtrachem site in Orrington. The Department of Marine Fisheries decided to close this specific area rather than issuing an advisory on all Maine lobster.
Last night’s public hearing was facilitated by Kevin Rousseau & Meredith Mendelson of the Dept of Marine Resources, and Dr Andrew Smith, the State Toxicologist with Maine Center for Disease Control. It was required as part of the process of making February’s emergency closure a regular rule, before the emergency rule expires in May. DMR Deputy Commissioner Meredith Mendelson provided some back ground. An informal question and answer session was held, followed by a formal public comment period.

The deadline for comments to the Department of Marine Fisheries regarding the closure of the lobster and crab fisheries near the mouth of the Penobscot River, is Friday, March 28th

WERU News Report 2/25/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

A standing room only crowd packed a public meeting last night in Bangor to learn more about – and comment on—the Army Corps of Engineers and MeDOT plan to dredge a channel in Searsport Harbor and dump the sludge near Islesboro

The location of the dredging would be within a few miles of the area that last week was closed to lobster fishing for at least 2 years because of mercury contamination from the former Holtrachem plant. And while the ACoE is relying on a 2008 report that found that chemicals, heavy metals and other pollutants in the sludge were within what they call “acceptable levels”, testing that was done last year near the adjacent Sprague Energy pier found high levels–above reporting limits–of a large variety of contaminants and known carcinogens including pesticides, heavy metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Also, the testing methodology that was used to detect mercury, was rejected in the Holtrachem case as being faulty. According to Kim Tucker, an attorney representing the Zone D Lobster Council and the Sierra Club, “the Corps instructed Sprague to use a testing methodology that the court’s expert’s in the HoltraChem case said will under-estimate the level of mercury by a factor of 2.0….

(Clips from the presentation and public comment period)

WERU News Report 2/19/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Segment 1: It was announced yesterday that the Maine Department of Marine Resources is closing an area near the mouth of the Penobscot River to lobster fishing, for at least 2 years, due to mercury contamination. But nearby there are plans underway to dredge up highly contaminated sediment near Mack Point to expand the depth of the channel there from 35 to 40 feet. Testing done as part of the permitting process has revealed a long list of carcinogens and endocrine disrupters in the sediment. And plans to dump the roughly 1 million cubic yards of that toxic sludge elsewhere in Penobscot Bay have lobstermen’s associations, town councils and state representatives very concerned. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that an informational meeting about the project, to be held Monday, is slated to be held in Bangor, in the evening, rather than in one of the coastal communities at a time when the island ferries are running.
We spoke earlier today with Kim Tucker, an attorney working with the Zone D Lobster Council and the Sierra Club, and with Ron Huber, Executive Director of Friends of Penobscot Bay. Some photos of the site: and

Segment 2: Dennis Marble, Executive Director of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, weighs in on how Gov. LePage’s veto of Mainecare expansion is impacting homelessness. Recorded by Matt Murphy

WERU News Report 1/7/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Part 1 of 2

Individuals/groups that were in the news on WERU in 2013, look ahead to 2014. Today: Chris Buchanan of Stop the East-West Corridor, Sarah Bigney of the AFL-CIO, Ron Huber of Friends of Penobscot Bay, Ilze Petersons of the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine, Judy Berk of the Natural Resources Council of Maine

WERU News Report 7/30/13

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Join us today on a chemical mystery tour of the area surrounding Sears Island. This afternoon we joined Ron Huber and Harlan McLaughlin of “Friends of Penobscot Bay”, as they led a hike along the shoreline, pointing out significant areas of concern. On the site of the GAC chemical company, there are old buildings and storage facilities that are crumbling on site, leftover from previous owners