On Tuesday July 30th at 12 noon, advocacy group Friends of Penobscot Bay will host a press conference and tour of the contaminated Stockton Harbor shoreline beneath GAC Chemical Corporation.
All are welcome! Wear footwear that can get a bit muddy.
Take the Sears Island Road, from Route 1 Searsport to the parking area on the left near the mainland end of the Sears Island causeway.
See image of where to park and where to go (sandbar in this aerial photo)
The Friends of Penobscot Bay hope to bring journalists and the interested public across a small cove via a sandbar, to where they can see, close up, the company's polluted muds, its debris-filled waterfront, including eroding shoreline waste dumps, and tainted clamflats, a tottering abandoned pipeline, a crumbling abandoned pumphouse and ceramic waste littering a beach.
The Friends of Penobscot Bay group wants GAC to trim back and revegetate shorelines that are eroding mid 20th century wastes into the harbor, or are on the verge of doing so. (DMRrecommended this in 1998) It is also asking the company to demolish and remove a long-abandoned factory and chemical tank perched above the shore of Stockton harbor and clean up the soils underneath them.
Aerial photos taken recently by Friends of Penobscot Bay strongly suggest that wastes are leaking underground from the derelict facility, into the intertidal mud and moving through the harbor's intertidal flats.
GAC manufactures a variety of chemicals, including ammonium sulfate used in pharmaceuticals and foods to alum, sodium aluminate, aqua ammonia and sodium hypochlorite. Additionally, GAC Chemical distributes "sulfuric acid, specialty flocculants and coagulants", and creates "custom blends of various fertilizer chemicals."
"The current operator of GAC Chemical is doing a great job keeping their present operationswell within their discharge license limits," said Friends of Penobscot Bay executive director Ron Huber. "They are an example of responsible industrial manufacturing, and deserve their slogan "Maine's Chemical Company".
"But because earlier companies on the the site in the twentieth century thoughtlessly dumped 100s of tons of industrial wastes on the shore, GAC Chemical's property is today eroding and leaking these wastes into Penobscot Bay. "
This has got to stop." Huber said.
The bay conservation group says the company's mile long shore received sustantial deposits of acidic bauxite ore, sulfur, carbon and other waste materials as a succession of fertilizer and chemical companies came and went on the Kidder Point site in the middle and late 20th Century. See a 1998 letter and a chart by former GAC plant operator Alex Horth to Maine DEP, describing shoreline waste depositions from 1939 to 1970.
"This stuff is from businesses that proceeded GAC Chemical on Kidder Point," said Harlan McLaughlin, president of the Friends group. "Plant operator David Colter doesn't allow wastes to be dumped on the shore. But the company knew the wastes were there when it bought the property from Delta Chemical," he said. "GAC owns the eroding waste dumps and abandoned buildings that right now are polluting Stockton Harbor."
"We think that Mr. Colter is up to the challenge," said Huber. He's shown a willingness to listen to our concerns and hire an environmental consultant, but a year of multiple missed deadlines has passed since he first promised to fix GAC's eroding shores. Nothing has happened."
We are calling on him to honor his agreement and put an end to the polluting of Stockton Harbor by legacy wastes on his company's property. We know he's a busy man, but Penobscot Bay needs a clean estuary to grow the fish & shellfish that should be filling it. Putting an end of waste erosion here will make a difference."
Huber said he hopes that GAC Chemical's David Colter will come out and speak with the people and media at the noon press conference on Tuesday.