SEARSPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Friends of Penobscot Bay have formally requested that the United States Coast Guard investigate Kidder Point Cove in Searsport to see if any pollutants from abutting property owned by GAC Chemical may be seeping onto the mud flats in the intertidal area. It's an investigation the Coast Guard has agreed to open, but GAC and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection are confident it will show that there is no public health threats and no violations of environmental laws and regulations.
Ron Huber of Friends of Penobscot Bay remains skeptical. He says he or other members of his group plan to be out on the beach area of Kidder Point on Sundays for the foreseeable future warning people about the potential for hazardous materials in the mud flats.
"A few signs there is what we'd like to see caution hazardous materials in the mud, use gloves," He said.
He's mainly concerned that sulfuric acid used decades ago by an abandoned manufacturing facility on the property may be seeping into the mud flats. It's a claim that Maine DEP has investigated as recently as last October.
"We did not find any seeping hazardous waste into the shoreline and did find they were in compliance with the law and regulations," explained Logan Jessamine, Communications Director for Maine DEP, adding that based on their findings, there are no concerns for public health
But Huber is critical of the DEP review because they didn't take soil samples and no one from his group was allowed to be present for the site visit. The DEP says that's protocol to avoid undue influence. But a Consultant hired by GAC was allowed to be present. DEP says that was in case there were technical questions the investigators needed answered about the property. Huber didn't like that explanation.
"We're not going to tell you when we're going to be there so you're not going to watch where we collect things and we'll report to the CEO of the company before we do the testing and then their environmental consultant will take us around to places that he tested and then he'll go back and tell us what he found? This is a state agency saying this stuff!" he exclaimed.
Maine DEP stands by it's findings and the companys track record. A search of EPA records dating back five years finds no violations. And Maine DEP says as recently as last month the company has sought advice to make sure their erosion control measures are sufficient.
"The department takes complaints of any contamination seriously and the department investigates these complaints."
And now it appears the Coast Guard will too. A Coast Guard official says they will review the extensive data Maine DEP has collected on the site over the past several years. He says once that data is reviewed the Coast Guard will determine if a site visit or other steps are necessary.
GAC President and CEO David Colter was out of the area today but he released a statement which reads in part:
"GAC Chemical is proud of its record of compliance and will continue to work to ensure that its operations are conducted consistent with all environmental and all regulatory requirements."
The Statement went onto say that extensive testing has been done over the past 30 years by Maine DEP and the Department of Marine Resources and there's never been any issues uncovered.