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Brownfields Cleanup at Former McCains Cooler Plant in Washburn

August 3, 2011

WASHBURN – The Town of Washburn, working with Maine DEP, Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC), and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently begun a Brownfields revitalization project at the former McCains Cooler Plant located on the Gardner Creek Road. 

In May 2011, Washburn was awarded a $200,000 Brownfield Cleanup subgrant by NMDC to be used to reduce threats to human health and the environment primarily by removing asbestos and other hazardous materials present at the site. The main feature of the site was an 86,630 square foot potato processing and cold storage facility that includes 11,190 square feet of freezer space. 

Environmental site assessments revealed that Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) was located in the potato production facility, potato waste screening building, starch plant, sprinkler building, scale house, and well house.   The roof of the starch plant has partially collapsed. This represents not only a safety risk, but also a potential exposure pathway of ACM and PCBs, both identified in the building.  

Both Maine DEP and the town decided that a significant cleanup project was warranted. Washburn recently hired CES to be the environmental consultant for the cleanup project, which began last month. The community believes that with the redevelopment of the site, positive benefits will accrue to neighborhoods and downtown businesses. Redeveloping the property into a fully operational industrial site will further civic pride and will create jobs and revenues for the community. The town continues to plan for the redevelopment of the site with a DECD-CDBG Planning grant. 

Through this process, it is envisioned that the site will once again host a viable and prosperous business. Brownfields projects show that what is good for our environment is also good for our economies and our communities, and because of all the good collaborative work the town has done with the department and the NMDC and because there are so few Brownfields projects in northern Maine, the Acting Commissioner wanted to tour the site and learn more about the important work being done there.


Washburn BrownfieldsBrownfields cleanup site in Washburn.

For more information on this Brownfields project, contact Julie Corey or Jay Kamm at NMDC.

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