A recycling company has taken the first step towards the safe clean up of the former Forster Mill in the town of Wilton, Maine, reports an article in the Morning Sentinel.
Recently, the local Department of Environmental Protection gave Wilton Recycling “one last chance” in regards to the clean-up at the mill, which was once a vibrant part of the area’s textile industry, and – finally – the company has submitted a remediation plan for the site, the article reports. Owner Adam Mack has provided local officials with a schedule that will meet the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) strict deadlines for the commencement of clean up, much to the relief of area residents who are concerned about what lurks at the old Forster Mill site, including carcinogens like asbestos, which can cause mesothelioma cancer and other lung diseases like asbestosis.
Work began in earnest last week. “We just spent $4,000 to board up some windows and do some of the other work that we agreed to,” said Mack last Friday. “We’re working to come up with a plan. Our company does plan to go forward and take care of the cleanup.”
First on the list of items to be completed by July 4 were steps designed to protect the public by removing access to the site, reports the article. For example, the DEP ordered that windows and doors be boarded up. In addition, a debris pile and a dumpster were covered with tarps, a surrounding fence was made more secure, and a path providing easy access to the site was blocked off.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) first detected high levels of asbestos at the site last July and contacted the DEP. At that time, Downeast Construction – headed by Ryan Blyther – was responsible for the demolition project. Blyther pulled his workers from the project when OSHA stepped in with their concerns, but he also faces fines for workplace safety violations. Specifically, Blyther’s workers may have suffered asbestos exposure.
“This is the first action that happened at the site for almost a year, so it’s a very good sign,” said DEP spokesperson, Samanta Depoy-Warren in regards to Wilton Recycling’s recent plan and subsequent securing of the site. “Obviously the department is really happy that progress has been made. This is a historic building in the town and one that the town would like to see remediated.”
Depoy-Warren notes that asbestos abatement is set to start on July 16. If it doesn’t, she says that the process will be handled by the EPA at Mack’s expense. “The bottom line is that one way or another — whether it is by the responsible party rightfully stepping up or by government action — this site will be cleaned up to ensure adequate protections,” she stressed.