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Old Town mill spills more than 30,000 gallons of chemicals into Penobscot River

The mill resumed production 10 days later after repairs.
Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 10:44 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2020 at 1:18 PM EDT
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OLD TOWN, Maine (AP) - More than 30,000 gallons of pulping chemicals spilled into the Penobscot River earlier this month from the ND Paper Mill in Old Town.

The mill suspended production when the spill was discovered.

Brian Kavanah, the director of the Bureau of Water Quality with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, says about 40 to 50 dead fish were observed in the area a day later. “The fish appeared to consist of small white perch and hornpout,” he says.

According to Kavanah, the spill occurred periodically during a six-day period.

The state is now consistently monitoring the water and Kavanah says caustic levels continue to go down as it is being treated.

Production at the mill resumed 10 days after repairs were made. “ND OTM, LLC is implementing a variety of corrective actions to address these root cause issues and has contractors onsite making various repairs to the faulty infrastructure and evaluating possibilities to remediate caustic that remains in the seepage area,” says Kavanah.

The Bureau of Water Quality says the seepage is considered an unlicensed discharge, which is both a state and federal violation. Kavanah says once the leak is fully contained and and final report is issued to the state by ND Paper, the DEP will determine an appropriate response to the incident.

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