- Associated Press - Monday, May 26, 2014

BERLIN, N.H. (AP) - The public has a chance to learn about cleanup proposals at a former chemical plant in northern New Hampshire that was named a federal Superfund site in 2005.

The Chlor-Alkali site is along the east bank of the Androscoggin River in Berlin. The plant had supported the production of paper in local mills. It operated from the late 1800s until the 1960s.

The Environmental Protection Agency says elemental mercury and other contaminants have migrated from the site and into the river, and continue to do so.

An EPA investigation found sediment, fish and other organisms tainted with the same contaminants found in the soil at the site. The EPA said it believes that “exposure to site contaminants in soils, debris, and groundwater, or eating fish from downstream of the site, poses an unacceptable risk to human health.”

The EPA also found that despite the continual discharge of mercury into the Androscoggin River, “EPA found no significant decrease in the survival of aquatic and animal life.” In other areas, though, concentrations were high and “these areas may pose a significant risk to birds and mammals.”

The public meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 29, in the Berlin City Hall.

The EPA plans to evaluate various alternatives for cleaning up the site, the release a proposed plan for public review and comment in the fall.

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