Between 9 and 12 metric tons of mercury were legally and illegally discharged into the river by a defunct chemical plant in Orrington, which last operated under the name HoltraChem in the 1990s. Cleaning up the mercury is the ultimate result of an ongoing lawsuit in U.S. District Court by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Maine Peoples Alliance against pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt, the first of several owners of the chemical plant and the only one still in existence. In 2002, the court ordered Mallinckrodt to pay for a study of the extent of contamination and how mercury accumulates and moves through the Penobscot system. Now that the works has progressed to figuring out how to actually remove mercury, the original study results have been published in a special issue of the journal Science of the Total Environment.
Read the full story in The Working Waterfront.