The site of the former Hancock Ellsworth Tannery is contaminated with asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyl, other semi-volatile organic compounds and lead and chromium. FILE PHOTO

Hancock receives U.S. grant to clean up tannery site



HANCOCK — The former site of the Hancock Ellsworth Tannery will be cleaned up, thanks to support from a federal grant program that aims to improve the environment in communities around the country.

Hancock was one of 10 municipalities in Maine that received funding through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Grant program.

The government granted Hancock $400,000 to clean up the tannery site, which sits just off the side of Route 1 and has been in disrepair for decades.

Falmouth-based Campbell Environmental Group and the Hancock County Planning Commission assisted in writing the grant. They focused on the potential of new businesses, trails, bus routes and apartments that could use that space.

“We succeeded with the help of HCPC and Campbell Environmental,” said Selectman Rick Merchant. “We know nothing at this point other than we won the grant.”

Hancock officials had applied twice before. In November, Hancock’s grant was filed with the EPA asking for $480,000 for the project.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) issued a joint press release praising the awards.

“The cleanup and proper disposal of hazardous waste not only enhances the safety of our communities, it creates new opportunities for economic development and job creation,” the senators said. “We are pleased that the EPA has designated these sites throughout Maine as recipients of vital federal funding for the revitalization of brownfield sites, and we welcome their continued investment.”

During selectmen’s meetings in Hancock last fall, Rich Campbell, the head of the Falmouth consulting group, talked about a revitalized community that could take place at the site of the former tannery.

“It’ll turn [the building] from a liability to cleaned up,” Merchant said. “Anything’s possible. There will be commercial businesses that are paying taxes. Could be residential in there.”

Jack Dodson
Jack Dodson began working for The Ellsworth American in mid-2017, and covers eastern Hancock and western Washington counties. He grew up in the Mid-coast region before living in New York City for five years, where he freelanced in documentary filmmaking and journalism. He is particularly interested in criminal justice, environment and immigration reporting.