SEARSPORT - Federal authorities have initiated an investigation into potentially hazardous conditions along the coastline at Kidder Point. The cove just east of Sears Island has been the focus of environmental advocacy group Friends of Penobscot Bay who have pushed for a cleanup of residual pollutants from the waterfront property currently owned by GAC Chemical.
FoPB organizer Ron Huber notified The Penobscot Bay Pilot late last week that the U.S. Coast Guard had opened an investigation of the area.
USCG Lieutenant Scott McCann on Friday confirmed that the agency had received a report from the National Response Center and had “tasked a team to conduct an investigation” in coordination with Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
McCann was able to verify the pending investigation at Kidder Point but did not immediately have access to the file on the site. He noted that Maine DEP has investigated the site in the past and that the Coast Guard would look at that report among other measures.
In a June 20 press release, Huber said the Friends of Penobscot Bay believe visitors to the beach at Kidder Point Cove “may be getting needlessly exposed to unsafe levels of sulfuric acid and heavy metals from a nearby abandoned manufacturing facility owned by GAC Chemical Corp.”
During a visit to the beach last August, Huber said he believed much of the contamination was coming from byproducts of chemicals produced for the paper industry that had been buried on the property. GAC hadn’t done this, but Huber hoped that Searsport plant operator David Colter, who had recently been promoted to President and CEO of the company, would undertake a clean up voluntarily.
In the months after, Huber reported no movement by GAC.
Asked on Friday how long an investigation would take, Lt. McCann declined to give an estimate.
“That’s a million dollar question,” he said. “It depends what kind of information we have, what kind of investigation it is and how many people get involved.”
Huber said members Friends of Penobscot Bay will be at the beach every Sunday afternoon to inform visitors of the pollution issues they believe to be present there.
"This is a public health hazard. Let's get it dealt with", he said.
Ethan Andrews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org