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BROWNFIELDS - Old Howland Tannery

Location: Howland, Maine

Historical/Current Use: Former brick manufacturing, paper manufacturing, plywood manufacturing, and leather tanning facility.  Currently inactive, potential future development

Contaminants of Concern: Inorganics, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, petroleum compounds, polychlorinated bi-phenyls, and solvent compounds

Summary of Impact/Sensitive Receptors: No adverse impact to private homeowner wells and the public water aquifer

Aerial photo of facility

The Old Howland Tannery facility has been utilized for industrial operations since the 1880's.  The property consists of approximately 12 industrial zoned acres situated at the confluence of the Penobscot and Piscataquis Rivers.  Campbell Environmental Group was contracted through the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's Brownfields Contract to conduct a Phase I and Phase II ESAs at the site.  Based on the results of the Phase I ESA, CEG prepared an Investigation Work Plan, including a Health and Safety Plan and Quality Assurance Project Plan, for Phase II ESA activities.  Phase II field investigation activities included the investigation of eleven areas of concern.  Contaminants of concern included petroleum products, solvents, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, and volatile organic compounds.

Drilling at the Howland site

Two Phase I and two Phase II ESAs were completed at this site prior to CEG's involvement. One Phase I ESA indicated that the site appeared to pose no risk.  The second Phase I ESA indicated there may be a limited potential for environmental risks. The Phase II ESAs indicated only minimal contamination.  CEG's Phase I ESA identified numerous previously unidentified environmental concerns including historical petroleum storage and distribution areas, potential tannery sludge lagoons, and tannery associated heavy metal concerns.  The resultant CEG Phase II ESA discovered significant amounts of contaminated soil.  Remedial efforts were conducted and over 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil were treated under CEG supervision.  The remaining impacts are being addressed under the VRAP.  Phase II field investigation activities included the investigation of eleven areas of concern.

The investigation was conducted in two phases to supplement existing information and fill in data gaps for the purpose of determining if the site is a threat to human health or the environment and to document any environmental issues that may affect future development.  Field investigation techniques included: an electromagnetic survey to identify buried structures, excavation of 53 test pits, installation of 20 soil borings and the collection of groundwater grab samples, installation of five monitoring wells and sampling of three existing monitoring wells, collection of three pore water samples, and the collection of seven soil samples from the interior of the Tannery building.  A total of 31 soil samples and 16 groundwater and pore water samples were selected and submitted for laboratory analysis.  Based on the results of the Phase II ESA field investigation and associated analytical data, CEG prepared a comprehensive Phase II ESA investigation report.

The results of the Phase II ESA identified large areas of the site that posed no threat to human health or the environment and can support immediate development.  Select portions of the site may require remediation or restricted development.  Currently, redevelopment plans for the property include the use of portions of the existing structures for a canoe and kayak refurbishing business, portions of the property for a public access boat launch, and construction of a natural fish bypass channel.

Map of the Old Howland Tannery and surrounding area, prepared by Chris Halstead of the Maine DEP GIS Unit.  This image has been reformatted to meet the space requirements for this page.  A detailed map is available here.

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Campbell Environmental Group

173 Gray Road

Falmouth, ME 04105

(207) 253-1990 f(207) 253-1988