HAMPDEN – Chevron settlement funds from a contaminated former oil facility in town will pay for nine river restoration projects along the Penobscot.
Chevron agreed in 2016 to pay more than $922,862 after a riverside terminal they operated on the border of Hampden and Bangor leaked oil into the Penobscot River repeatedly.
“It was a settlement between state and federal natural resource agencies with the former owners and operators of the facility to compensate the public for damages resulting from their repeated discharges of oil,” said Scott Whittier of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
Chevron took responsibility for the cleanup, even though the facility was used by several companies over the years, and in 2008 they removed soils and installed a sheet pile wall around a portion of the site. Eight years later they agreed to pay the settlement and state and federal officials announced this week where the money will be spent.
“The final restoration plan puts into effect multiple restoration projects in the Penobscot River watershed that piggyback on other state and federal efforts to restore the Penobscot,” Whittier said.
He later added, “The projects are primarily focused on improving fish passage and opened up new areas of habitat so that the fisheries can be restored.”
In fact, they open up more than 17 miles of stream and river habitats, helping migratory fish, like eels, alewives and Atlantic salmon.
Overall, seven road culverts will be replaced, and two fishways will be built, with projects in Hampden, Charleston, Sedgewick and Brooksville.
“Hampden is pleased that we’re going to be receiving $45,000 awarded to the Lane Construction Corporation who will be replacing an undersized culvert at the Sucker Brook,” said Town Manager Paula Scott, who added the construction company is “matching the $45,000 with in-kind work on the project.”
The town manager said the project site is “half a mile down from the contamination site, so it’s fitting that some of the funds came back to the town of Hampden.”
Whittier said state and federal officials also are pleased.
“It’s exciting to feel like a problem that resulted in contamination into the Penobscot is now being restored in other ways and will result in improvements to fisheries in the area,” he said. “It’s a nice ending to a not so great story.”