PEPPERELL — Pepperell’s paper mill demolition is progressing but according to town officials, will be behind about a week due to environmental concerns.
The DEP says 500 gallons of oil have been collected from the Nashua River after a light surface sheen was reported to the Department of Environmental Protection on May 13. During demolition, the New York company EC Commodities also ran into chemical drums, asbestos and machine lubricant in the old buildings that required DEP and Environmental Protection Agency attention.
The spill, now under control, has been contained by booms and filters by the DEP and EPA in cooperation with New England Disposal Technologies, an industrial-waste disposal firm based in Sutton.
“The cooperation and coordination our group had with others and the town of Pepperell has been instrumental,” DEP Spokesmen Joe Ferson said.
Town officials were eager to help, for now both the Pepperell Fire Department and a licensed site professional from the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Hazardous Waste Site Cleanup Professionals are on hand.
“The biggest concern we have is for the environment,” said Town Administrator John Moak.
According to Ferson, the sheen was mainly oil, but there was also trace amounts of sodium hydroxide, a chemical base used in the paper manufacturing. The sheen had been traced back to the demolition site and an ongoing investigation to find a more exact source and identify other hazards is underway.
With the building’s long history, it could be a number of things.
According to Moak, the leakage was caused by the old building’s drainage system. The river’s annual rise along with building tear-down had caused some of the residuals from the demolition to leak out.
The paper mill contains many old, large machines used in the manufacturing of paper. Machines which had to be lubricated. Also, several large drums were found and disposed of safely.
Asbestos levels in the structure’s ceiling also called for an asbestos abatement plan, which has been filed. Moak said the asbestos is mainly concentrated in the ceiling of the structure.
Land owners Perry Videx LLC, who hired EC Commodities, are also covering the cost of the cleanup.
Next week EC Commodities is expected to continue demolition of the site. The proposed three-month time frame has been expanded by about a week. A security detail and protective chain-link fencing has been put up around the site as a precaution.
“There is a great deal of supervision on site,” Moak said.