The town of Wiscasset will receive $400,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up four of the former Mason Station properties.
As part of the same round of grants, the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission will receive $200,000 to assess hazardous sites throughout the county.
The EPA notified recipients of the awards Wednesday, April 25.
“The town of Wiscasset is excited to receive the 2018 brownfields grant,” Wiscasset Town Manager Marian Anderson said in an email Wednesday. “This brownfield funding will positively impact the town of Wiscasset for years to come!”
The town owns the four lots. The money will pay for the cleanup of pollution from the coal-fired Mason Station power plant, specifically for sites known as “ash pools.” The lots do not include the plant itself, which remains under private ownership.
“The opportunity to repurpose this property will result in a boost in our local economy and spur growth and private investments in our community,” Anderson said. “Cleaning up and putting this property back into productive use will strengthen our local economy by bringing new businesses and job opportunities to our town, county, and state.
“We appreciate the EPA’s ongoing commitment to providing Wiscasset the tools to transform this contaminated site. We are grateful to Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Angus King for their work to secure this important funding for the town of Wiscasset.”
A brownfield is real estate, especially land, that is heavily contaminated with industrial pollutants, according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary.
Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Mary Ellen Barnes is pleased with the county’s grant.
In the months ahead, the planning commission will search for sites with likely petroleum pollution, like former gas stations, auto-repair shops, junkyards, and apartment buildings.
The commission will determine each property’s prospects as a place to bring new businesses, expand existing businesses, and create new jobs, and then will select sites to undergo assessments.
The EPA will not award a brownfield cleanup grant until a site assessment has been completed, according to Barnes.
A previous EPA grant to the planning commission paid for assessments of the four lots at Mason Station – lots 82-85 – by Ransom Consulting Inc.
The lots on the Sheepscot River have the potential to once again become valuable real estate after cleanup.
EPA Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization Director David Lloyd congratulated the town on its receipt of the grants in an April 25 letter to Wiscasset Board of Selectmen Chair Judy Colby.
“The town of Wiscasset submitted outstanding grant proposals, and we deeply appreciate the tremendous commitment of time and energy that went into their preparation,” Lloyd said in the letter.
Anderson credited the success of the application in part to Barnes and her colleague at the planning commission, Community Development Specialist Harold Spetla. Barnes and Spetla helped prepare the application.
“They worked with me until nearly 10 p.m. one night to complete the application,” Anderson said. “They were a great help and we really appreciate the work they did.”
The town and the planning commission have three years to use the funds, which will be available in October, according to Barnes.
The EPA will work closely with the town to negotiate a cooperative agreement prior to the grant awards.
According to Spetla, the town’s first step in the cleanup process will be to create a request for proposals for a qualified environmental professional to begin the cleanup in accordance with the assessment.
Barnes said the Brownfield cleanup funding was very competitive for 2018 due to a reduction in funding. The program awarded 71 cleanup grants in 2017 and 38 in 2018.