Farmington property being considered as Superfund site
FARMINGTON — Residents have until July to submit their comments about the former Collins & Aikman property along Route 11 after federal environmental officials submitted it as a potential Superfund site.
Last week, members of the Environmental Protection Agency recommended that the 123-acre partially-developed parcel and eight other sites across the country be added to the National Priorities List.
The Route 11 property, formerly a large automotive interiors production facility, was owned by Davidson Rubber before it was sold to Textron Inc. and eventually purchased by Collins & Aikman, which declared bankruptcy in 2005.
After operations ended in 2006, the manufacturing plant was razed, but a majority of the property has remained untouched aside from a warehouse and 10 acres that was purchased by a metal recycling company. The Metal Farm, which began operations earlier this week, was not involved with the property before last year, according to General Manager Jesse Hoyt.
The property has long been a source of concern of previous employees, residents and officials on the local and state levels.
"The facility is a source for groundwater contamination in the area. The State of New Hampshire has referred the site to EPA for review because the site poses risk to the environment and human health. Collins & Aikman Co. is bankrupt, leaving no money to continue the investigation and implement a comprehensive cleanup in the future," according to the EPA release.
Officials from the state Department of Environmental Services made the recommendation, which was endorsed by Gov. Maggie Hassan, because the cleanup process requires more resources than the state possesses, according to DES Hydrogeologist Molly Stark.
Stark said the DES supports the EPA's recommendation to include the property on the NPL.
The town of Farmington has also indicated support for listing the former Collins & Aikman property, according to the EPA.
Stark said the EPA is only considering the former plant property and not the Cardinal Landfill on Cocheco Road, which was capped and has been deemed a low risk at this time.
Following the 60-day public comment period, which ends July 23, federal officials will begin a year-long review process for all proposed Superfund sites, according to EPA Spokeswoman Emily Zimmerman.
Zimmerman encourages anyone with information about the sites to submit comments. She added the EPA will review all information received during the period.
"If it gets listed (on the NPL), the first step is to look for responsible parties," Zimmerman said, adding that if a site is added to the NPL, it will be eventually cleaned up with federal funding through the Superfund program.
Superfund addresses "uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country to protect people's health and the environment," according to an EPA release.
Zimmerman said nine sites were added to the NPL last year. She said the properties are accepted based on need and remain on the list until they are determined to be safe.
As a result, the clean-up process can last for years, or even decades in some instances, Zimmerman said.
Residents and officials can submit their comments about the proposed Superfund sites, as identified by the appropriate docket number — EPA-HQ-SFUND-2013-0203 for the former Collins & Aikman property — by following instructions on regulations.gov.
Interested parties may view documents by appointment only or copies may be requested from the Headquarters or appropriate Regional Docket, including the office in Boston, Mass. which oversees the New England states.