LEEDS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A former metal waste site in Leeds has been closed for more than 30 years, but it's still causing problems.
The Leeds Metal site in Leeds is a 36-acre scrap yard near the Blue Rock Road and Pan Am Railways, near Route 106.
According to a spokesperson from the Department of Environmental Protection, testing has revealed soil and water contamination in the industrial and residential area.
The DEP has found seven drinking water supply wells to be contaminated from the waste site with chemicals such as polychorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals such as arsenic and lead.
The Massachusetts company Pan Am Railways has owned the land and leased it to metal recycling companies over the years.
According to a DEP report, site operations date back to the 1800s, but there is little information available about the activities there before 1969.
Between 1969 and 1984, Pan Am rented the space to scrap metal site operators that shredded and stockpiled metal.
Now, the DEP has found lead and chemical solvents in the soil and water, and is appealing to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency for funding.
The Leeds waste site has qualified for the National Superfund Priority list, which means it is one of the most hazardous and complex waste sites in the nation.
"I think for the Department it is a strong priority," said Kathy Howatt, Leeds site Project Manager for the DEP. "If we didn't feel that way, we wouldn't have sought help from the EPA."
So far, the metal companies responsible for the waste have escaped liability because they went out of business, Howatt explained.
She said the DEP and EPA are working with Pan Am Railways to track down those responsible, and ask them to help with cleanup funding.
Pan Am Railways spokesperson Cindy Scarano said the company is "doing investigative work," and they "plan to do what's necessary to clean up" the site.
If those former metal companies do not come through, the DEP will be seeking that funding from the EPA -- but funding is not guaranteed, Howatt said.
She said there is not an established timetable, and the process is a slow one.