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)