Kingfield industrial site found environmentally safe

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KINGFIELD – An old wood product factory site has been found in relative good condition, according to town officials and environmental specialists. The current owner is likely to proceed with a planned demolition and salvage operation.

The Joneco property, on the West Kingfield Road, was investigated as part of a program the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments is running to test five sites which are believed to have been at risk to exposure by toxins. The program is being funded through a $200,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant.

During the public hearing last night at the Kingfield selectmen’s meeting, AVCOG representatives Ferg Lea and Janet Pelletier, along with Wilkes Harper of the Department of Environmental Protection presented the findings of Rich Campbell, of Campbell Environmental Group, who conducted the survey. Campbell took 25 soil samples and dug five groundwater wells while at the site, looking for harmful chemicals in the soil.

According to Administrative Assistant Greg Davis, the results were good.

“For a former industrial site,” Davis said, “[Campbell] said that it was in pretty good shape.”

Campbell found Banopyrene, Bis 2-ethylhexl phthalate, some small amounts of arsenic, lead and cadmium, and diesel-like organics. None of these substances were detected below the first six inches of topsoil, and the groundwater was completely uncontaminated. Some of the substances, such as the metals and diesel range organics, can be naturally occurring.

Generally, the site is perfectly suitable for many kinds of activity. Certain residential uses, such as a child care center, would warrant a scraping of the top six inches, Campbell advised.

The current owner, Richard Keenan, is currently seeking a permit from the town to tear the old structure down. Salvageable elements could include bricks and hand-hewn beams which have some value for architects and the like, as well as metal which can be recycled.

Davis noted that residents will not be saddened by the building’s destruction.

“It’s an old, crumbling building,” he said, “an eyesore for the neighborhood which has a number of skunks and other animals nesting inside. No one here will mourn its passing.”

The DEP will likely have some oversight over the demolition process, and special steps to remove asbestos in the building may need to be taken.

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