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EPA Announces Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Pownal Tannery Superfund Site Lagoon Area

Release Date: 07/11/2002
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1064

Boston– The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposed $8.8 million cleanup plan for the 18-acre lagoon area of the Pownal Tannery Superfund site in Pownal, Vermont. EPA will hold a public information meeting on July 18 at 7:00 PM at the Pownal Elementary School gymnasium to discuss the cleanup plan for the lagoons.

The proposed plan includes the following components:

    • consolidation of contaminated sludge from three of five lagoons and construction of a low permeability cover;
    • restoration of the bank and river bed for the Hoosic River;
    • long-term monitoring of ground water, sediment and surface water;
    • annual site inspection and review of remedy every five years;
    • establishment of institutional controls to prevent water consumption from the lagoon and landfill areas, and to prevent excavation of lagoon sludge.
"Pownal was one of the first sites nationally to have received an EPA grant that allows the community to plan for the reuse of this site once it's cleaned up," said Robert W. Varney, EPA New England regional administrator. "Our cleanup is being done with the community's interest for the site's future in mind."

"This action is the last in a long series of steps to mitigate the environmental hazards caused by the former tannery. I'm pleased that the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and EPA will be working together to address the remaining environmental problems at the site and make the property available and suitable for municipal use," said Christopher Recchia, commissioner for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

"If it weren't for the work EPA and others have been doing on this project , the town would never have been able to accomplish what is accomplishing in that area - everything from recreational projects to water reserve, to waste water treatment – all that is being made possible by EPA's help," said Nelson Brownell, Pownal selectmen.

EPA will hold a formal public hearing on Wednesday, August 7, at 7:00 PM at the Pownal Elementary School gymnasium during which time the public is invited to provide comments on the cleanup plan. Citizens can also provide written comment during the 30-day public comment period, which runs from Friday, July 19 to Monday, August 19, 2002. Comments should be sent to:

Ms. Leslie McVickar, EPA Remedial Project Manager
US EPA New England Office
One Congress Street (HBT)
Boston, MA 02114-2023

Citizens can also obtain additional information about the tannery lagoon cleanup from the information repository at the Solomon Wright Public Library in Pownal or for copies of the proposed plan, call Sarah White at 617-918-1026 or toll free: 1-888-372-7341 (ext. 8-1026).

The Pownal Tannery specialized in chrome tanning of sheepskins. Tannery wastes including chromium, a toxic metal, was dumped into large, open, unlined lagoons near the tannery building. Dyes and waste were also discharged into the Hoosic River which flows past the site. The tannery operated from 1937 to 1987 when its owners filed for bankruptcy.

In 1993, EPA's emergency removal team conducted a preliminary site cleanup removing several barrels of oils and solvents from the building. EPA site investigations revealed widespread contamination to the primary and adjacent lagoons. In 1999, the EPA decontaminated, demolished and removed the old tannery building. In November 2000, the EPA constructed a multi-layer cap over the former tannery landfill. Cleanup of the Pownal Tannery lagoon area is the final phase of the tannery cleanup