A contaminated former mine in Brooksville is one of 49 Superfund sites across the country whose cleanup will be funded with $1 billion from the recently passed infrastructure bill signed into law in November.
The former Callahan Mining Corporation site operated from the late 1800s until it closed in 1972. It is the only contaminated site from Maine in line for funding from the $1 billion investment announced recently by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“This site has been plagued with legacy contamination that, until now, EPA has not had the funding to clean up,” EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro said. “Getting this site off of the backlog list and cleaned up is a very important step for Brooksville to envision potential future uses for this area.”
Superfund sites are among the nation’s most contaminated that the Environmental Protection Agency is charged with cleaning.
It’s not yet known how much funding will be set aside for the Callahan mine, said Bryan Olson, the director of the EPA’s New England Superfund and Emergency Management Division.
Zinc-copper sulfide ore deposits were discovered at the site on the northwest side of Cape Rosier on Penobscot Bay in Brooksville in 1880.
The 120-acre site consists of a now submerged 300-foot-deep open pit mine, a former mine operations area, a series of waste rock piles and a tailing impoundment.
Arsenic and lead contamination are found in the site’s soil and rock; copper, lead and zinc are found in high concentrations in the sediment; and polychlorinated biphenyls, better known as PCBs, have also been found in the area.
Cleanup at the site has been going on since 2010 and the most recent work started in 2018. The project has been awaiting funding to complete the current phase since 2019.
EPA officials hope this funding from the infrastructure bill will pay for the current cleanup phase as well as the start of work to address sediment contamination at the site, Olson said.
The current cost estimate for the sediment work is $12 million. The additional funding needed to complete the work that is already underway amounts to $8 million. These estimates will be adjusted once EPA contracts out the work, Olson said.