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United States : Stimulus, funds protect towns water.

Acquired in a tax foreclosure in January, the former Patten General Store has been impossible to return to the tax rolls, Town Manager Terri Conklin says.

"That building has been for sale for a year or two now. There was a potential buyer for it, but when he started looking into the fact that there were underground gas tanks there and contaminated soil, there were just too many risks for him," Conklin said Tuesday. "The sale fell through."

About $120,000 in federal stimulus money and $100,000 in state funds might change that.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is using American Recovery and Revitalization Act funds to pay for the removal of four underground gasoline storage tanks and 1,300 tons of contaminated soil to help revitalize the property and protect two wells serving about 200 public water customers.

The Patten property is among four gasoline stations or general stores DEP will clean up with stimulus money this summer. The former Victor's Irving gas station in Grand Isle, the Smithfield General Store and a former gasoline station in Trenton are the others, DEP senior environmental engineer David McCaskill said.

The $100,000 in Maine Groundwater Oil Cleanup Funds will replace 30 substandard home heating oil tanks at residences and businesses within the wellhead protection zone around the Old Schoolhouse and Creamery wells, said Alex Wong, an Environmental Protection Agency source water program manager working for the Maine Rural Water Association.

The oil tank replacement project is out to bid. It is scheduled to be completed by December 2011, Conklin said.

DEP officials piggybacked the oil tank replacement atop the gas tank and soil remediation to stretch the funding and improve efficiency, McCaskill said.

The Creamery Well, as it is locally known, is about 600 feet from the former store. No contamination from gas or oil tanks has been observed, Wong said. Installed in the 1980s, the gasoline tanks have been leaking steadily over the years.

Those tanks were removed last Thursday. On Tuesday, DEP subcontractors used a backhoe to remove contaminated soil. Donald H.W. Robbins, a Maine-certified geologist with EnviroInvestigations & Remediation Inc. of Vassalboro, and DEP geologist Paul Higgins frequently took soil samples from the backhoe shovel to measure contamination.

"We'll be here well into next week," said Butch Bowie, a DEP environmental specialist. The project should finish by Aug. 5.

A potato, cattle and dairy farming community of about 1,100 people in the northernmost reaches of Penobscot County, Patten is particularly well suited for stimulus money projects, Wong and Conklin said.

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Date:Jul 28, 2010
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