Penobscot River mercury pollution case headed to Federal Court

Penobscot River mercury pollution case headed to Federal Court: Judge denies defendant motion to exclude ‘fact-witness testimony’    By Dan West | RJ | Mar 04, 2014
Bangor — The case to determine what Mallinckrodt US LLC must do to clean up mercury contamination in the Penobscot River will go to trial May 7.

According to court documents, in 2002 Mallinckrodt was determined to be responsible for the pollution at the contaminated HoltraChem site in Orono. It has been ordered to clean up several mercury contaminated landfills on the HoltraChem site, but it has not been determined what it should do about waters around that plant, which are under federal jurisdiction.

Following the 2002 decision, the court ordered the formation of a panel to study mercury contamination in marine life in the waters around the HoltraChem plant. The study’s findings were recently used to justify the closure of much of the Penobscot River between Stockton Springs and Verona Island to lobster fishing due to unacceptably high levels of mercury found in the shellfish.

That study will be the focus of the May trial, in which the National Resource Defense Council and the Maine Peoples Alliance are the plaintiffs. At trial the U.S. District Court in Bangor will determine whether the recommendations of the Study Panel — that Mallinckrodt perform remediation on the river to increase the rate of recovery for that estuary — should be pursued.

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