Archives for Penobscot River

WERU News Report 7/8/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

In what many believe to be the latest threat to the Penobscot Nation and the river ecosystem, a new landfill is being proposed in the Greenbush/Argyle area. The organization behind the plan is the Municipal Review Committee or “MRC”, which represents nearly 200 Maine municipalities that have their solid waste delivered to the PERC waste-to-energy facility in Orrington. Supporters cite a 2013 report that indicated that Maine would run out of landfill space in 11 years, and an impending fee increase at the PERC plant as evidence of need for a new landfill.

The new dump would be located only a few miles from the controversial Juniper Ridge landfill. It would also be in close proximity to Indian Island, Birch Stream and Sunkhaze Meadows Wildlife Refuge, near an aquifer and in an area known for landslides. The location is also adjacent to what is believed to be the route the proposed East-West Corridor would take through the area.

Last week, the Maine Dept of Environmental Protection held a public meeting in Old Town, one step in the process of determining whether the dump would meet the “public benefit” criteria required for issuing a permit.

For several hours the public spoke Here’s what some of them had to say. DEP Commissioner Patrica Aho facilitated:

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 5/14/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Segment 1: The Natural Resources Council of Maine announced yesterday that they have developed a series of maps that depict the effects of rising sea levels on the Maine coast, as well as a list of the top 20 Maine towns affected by sea level rise due to climate change. We get the details from Dylan Voorhees, NRCM’s Clean Energy and Global Warming Project Director.

Segment 2: For our Penobscot river and bay report this week, we’re checking in with Ron Huber, director of “Friends of Penobscot Bay”. We reported last week that NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has announced that the Penobscot River is one of two sites in the North Atlantic region that they are designating as Habitat Focus Areas, which will direct more resources to restoration of the river. NOAA has been involved in the removal of 2 major dams on the river, and is looking at removing some of the smaller ones. Huber see this as positive news for the river and bay:

Segment 3: We meet the new Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine, Alison Beyea

WERU News Report 5/7/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Segment 1: What happens when you cross Governor LePage with the Koch Brothers? Child safety advocates say that question was answered yesterday as Maine’s Department of Environmental Protect (DEP) blocked plans to add formaldehyde to the priority list under the Kid-Safe Products Act. Mike Belliveau of “Prevent Harm” explains

Segment 2: The Maine-based Hurricane Island Outward Bound Program is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year. And while you’ve most likely heard of the program, you might be surprised to hear how it started. Executive Director, Eric Denny joined us to talk about the program, their history, and how they plan to celebrate this year

Segment 3: NOAA – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announced this week that the Penobscot River is one of two sites in the North Atlantic region that they are designating as Habitat Focus Areas. We spoke with NOAA spokesperson Maggie Mooney-Seus to find out what that means

Segment 3:

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:

RadioActive 11/7/13

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

Program Topic: Penobscot Nation Natural Resources director on the work to protect the health of the Penobscot River Watershed

Key Discussion Points:

a) Today we hear a talk by John Banks, a member of the Penobscot Nation and the Natural Resources Director for the tribe. He has been an active and tireless advocate for environmental sustainability and tribal rights.
b) In his talk, he outlines the Penobscot Nation’s work to protect the health of the Penobscot River Watershed from the impacts of paper mill dioxin, to the work of the Penobscot River Restoration Project to dismantle dams, allowing for the expansion of fish species into original habitats, to legal issues on state vs federal control over pollution permits, with explicit industry pressure, and now the tribes current court case to oppose the 2012 state Attorney General’s opinion that the Penobscot Reservation does not include any of the Penobscot River.

c) John Banks spoke at the University of Maine’s 10th annual Eco-Peace Sustainability Training and International Affiliates Conference on October 25th in Belfast. This years Conference was titled “Reclaiming the Commons : Water Ethics and Nature Rights in Maine”. We spoke with organizer Hugh Curran on RadioActive October 10th, 2013.


A) John Banks, Natural Resources Director for the Penobscot Nation; Penobscot tribal member

RadioActive 6/14/12

Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco
Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

Program Topic: Penobscot River Restoration Project, with John Banks of the Penobscot Nation: Great Works at Old Town going down.

Key Discussion Points:

a) On Monday, work began to remove the Great Works dam on the Penobscot River in Old Town. It is the first step in re-opening 1000 miles of the river to sea run fish, including alewives, herring, sturgeon and Atlantic salmon. In 2013, the Veazie Dam is scheduled to be removed. The Milford and Howland dams will install new fish lifts and by passes.

b) The Penobscot River Restoration Project has been called one of the largest fishing restoration projects in the history of the country, and now serves as a global model for cooperative conservation efforts. The project includes conservation groups, utilities, government entities, including the Penobscot Indian Nation.

c)The Penobscot Nation, which has been on the ground floor of this project, has offered instrumental perspective and leadership on the project, based on their unique relationship with the Penobscot River


A) John Banks, tribal member, Director of the Department of Natural Resources for the Penobscot Nation, founder and member of the Penobscot River Restoration Project

Call In Program: no

Weekend Voices 1/30/10

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

The company responsible for cleaning up hundreds of thousands of tons of soil contaminated by mercury at the former Holtrachem chemical plant in Orrington, is asking the state to approve a cheaper, less thorough, and quicker, clean up plan for the site.   Mallinckrodt Incorporated, a subsidiary of a multibillion dollar corporation, would save an estimated $100 million, and leave behind a large quantity of mercury in the soil, if their plan to remove only the most contaminated section is approved.   Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, and the former Holtrachem site is on the banks of the Penobscot River, just a few miles upstream from Penobscot Bay.

The Board of Environmental Protection held a public hearing in Orrington, Thursday night to hear what people think about the proposal.  WERU was there, and today we bring you excerpts from the testimony.