ORRINGTON – At this time of year, the Penobscot River flows dark and deep, draining the second-largest watershed in New England – and one of the most pristine.
But as the river passes through the town of Orrington, it picks up an added ingredient: mercury leaking from five landfills on the riverbank at the former HoltraChem Manufacturing Co. plant. The polluted water then flows past Bucksport and into Penobscot Bay, past the coastal tourist towns of Castine, Camden and Rockland, the big summer homes on the islands of Islesboro, North Haven and Vinalhaven, and into the fishing grounds of the Gulf of Maine.
“This is not just an Orrington issue. This river is so valuable to Maine’s economy,” said Ryan Tipping-Spitz of Bangor, an organizer with the Maine People’s Alliance, an advocacy group that has been pushing for a cleanup at HoltraChem for decades.
The mercury contamination at the plant, once described by Gov. John Baldacci as the worst hazardous waste site in the state, has been the focus of a cleanup effort dating to the 1980s.
Click on the link for the rest of today’s story by Beth Quimby in the Portland Press Herald.