In this file photo made in the 1970s and provided by the Maine Geological Survey, the Callahan Mining Corp. open pit in Brooksville, Maine, is seen while it was still active. Chemicals were used to extract the metals from the mine. The polluted Down East mine later became a federal Superfund cleanup site. Credit: Maine Geological Survey via AP

Work to cleanup hazardous waste at a contaminated former mine in Brooksville will be expedited this summer after an injection of $21 million from the bipartisan infrastructure funding package passed last fall.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the additional funding on Tuesday and officials hope the flush of cash will help end the decade-plus long cleanup effort at the former Callahan Mining Corporation Superfund site.

Without the extra funding, there likely would have not been enough money to finish ongoing work at the Cape Rosier mine, which operated from the late 1800s until its closure in 1972, nor to start the final cleanup phase.

“It’s a priority for EPA to get this site off the Superfund backlog list,” said David Cash, the agency’s New England regional administrator. “Cleaning up this site is key for the Brooksville community to develop alternatives for potential future uses in this area.”

The bulk of the remaining work could be done within three or four years.

Superfund sites are highly contaminated areas such as mines, landfills and manufacturing facilities that the EPA is charged with cleaning. The Callahan mine has been awaiting funding to complete ongoing cleanup efforts since 2019.

Zinc-copper sulfide ore deposits were discovered at the 120-acre site in 1880. It now consists of a 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 rock and soil; there are high concentrations of copper, lead and zinc in the sediment, and polychlorinated biphenyls, better known as PCBs, have also been found in the area.

All of those could pose threats to the nearby estuary and human health.

The EPA is finalizing cleanup plans to get construction work going as soon as possible, according to Cash.