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EPA Completes $1 Million Cleanup of Historic Building in Bellows Falls, VT

Release Date: 12/09/2003
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Involvement Office, 617-918-1064

12/09/03 -BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency completed a $1 million cleanup at the former TLR Mill Complex in Bellows Falls, Vermont. The historic mill buildings were contaminated with friable asbestos and other hazardous materials. EPA determined that a large part of the complex was unstable and had to be demolished to perform the cleanup. Attempts to save the historic paper-making machine failed when the machine and its supporting structure were found to be close to collapse. EPA was able to preserve portions of the machine that were delivered to the town for historic preservation.

The mill complex, which was used as a paper manufacturing facility from 1872 to 1986, had widespread contamination, including high concentrations of friable asbestos in multiple building locations as well as tanks, drums and containers. Some containers were found to have various toxic solvents, including tetrachlorethane corrosive liquids, and corrosive sludges.

After clearing the lot around the mill buildings, EPA removed paper and drums from under a tank in the canal, cleaned asbestos-containing material from the outside of 5,000 gallon tank, and cleaned broken asbestos floor tiles. In total, 164 truckloads of material, 141 bags, five fiber drums and 40 drums and smaller containers were shipped from the site for safe disposal.

Older portions of the mill complex are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Remnants of the nation''s first transportation canal, constructed from 1792 to 1802, were found in the basement. Discovery of an additional, possibly original, canal eyebolt was found during the cleanup.

"We tried to retain the historical and cultural value of these buildings, but age had taken its toll," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Items of historical interest that could be salvaged have been turned over to the town for safe-keeping."

The work was done in consultation with the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. It was also coordinated with the Village of Bellows Falls and the town of Rockingham, which took joint ownership of the buildings and one-acre property in 1991 in lieu of unpaid taxes and fees.