Asbestos Contaminated Vacant Mill Must Go
A vacant and charred textile mill sits in the middle of the town of Sanford, Maine, awaiting a decision as to its future. The work at the Sanford Trust Mill came to a halt way back in 1955.
The large structure had been built in 1922 when the textile industry was huge throughout the state of Maine.
Originally known as the Goodall Worsted Company, it employed more than 3,000 locals who produced a textile known as “Palm Beach cloth”, a lightweight fabric that was most often used in the manufacture of men’s suits.
But it’s been a long time since work of any sort has been happening inside the building, and last June, three boys allegedly set the structure on fire, leaving behind an eyesore and a huge mess.
Before the blaze, there was hope that a developer would purchase the old mill and open sparkling new condos at the site, but with the damage that ensued with the fire, that’s up in the air, and what will happen is now in the hands of the EPA.
Local government officials hope the clean-up begins soon, especially since the debris from the building is strewn with asbestos.
“The EPA performed a site investigation July 27, sampling materials and soils surrounding the complex and downstream of the air and water discharge from the structure fire that occurred on June 23,” reports the Bangor Daily News.
According to a statement by Sanford City Manager Steve Buck, that report determined that action is necessary due to “actual or potential exposure to nearby human populations, animals, or the food chain from hazardous substances or pollutants or contaminants.”
Buck’s report notes that there are high levels of a variety of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants in soils “largely at or near the surface,” with asbestos as the primary contaminant. Buck and the EPA both fear that the contaminants could “migrate” and make their way into the air or to other parts of the property.
Though the fire destroyed the rear tower of the old structure, the front tower remained, and so does a “developer of interest”, Buck notes.
However, it’s unlikely that the company will make a move while the asbestos and other contaminants are still in place. However, some locals believe that the time to redevelop the mill for re-use is long past and would prefer to see the mill demolished in its entirety and all the debris – including the contaminants – carted away.
In the meantime, the EPA says they hope to have a plan in place within 3 weeks.
The town of Sandford isn’t alone in their plight, of course. Abandoned textile mills, steel mills, and all sorts of other factories pose health risks wherever they happen to be, especially if they were built when asbestos use was widespread. Individuals should never enter these decrepit buildings and should avoid disturbing anything left behind.