Maine Currents 1/6/16

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Today we do a 2015 year in review with clips from stories about Divest UMaine, an investigation by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, Kim Ervin Tucker, scientists and lobstermen opposing the Searsport dredging project, the fight over mining regulations in Maine, the NRDC and Maine People’s Alliance’s federal lawsuit over the mercury pollution in the Penobscot River, Mainers opposing the TPP, and a story by Naomi Graychase , recording at “Bucksport, Then and Now”, and more — and we look ahead to 2016!

WERU News Report 6/17/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

The latest chapter in a story we’ve been reporting on for nearly 15 years played out in Federal Court today, as lawyers for both sides in the Penobscot River mercury pollution case (Maine People’s Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council vs. Mallinckrodt Inc.) made their closing arguments. We start today with a press conference held outside the Federal Building held by the Maine People’s Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council—the 2 groups that successfully sued the huge corporation responsible for the major mercury pollution many years ago and are now trying to get them to stop delaying and start cleaning it up. We also have notes from the final arguments, and make the connection with the mercury in the bay and proposed dredging project by re-airing an August 2014 interview with Dr. Kevin Yeager, one of the court-appointed independent scientist who worked on the Holtrachem/Mallinckrodt mercury case and was later hired by parties concerned about the dredging project to take a look at the testing methods used by the Army Corps of Engineers.

WERU News Report 6/10/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

The Maine Department of Marine Resources Public Hearing on the Controversial Searsport Harbor Dredging Project

The auditorium of Searsport District High school last night was a sea of red shirts, worn by lobstermen and their supporters at a public hearing on the controversial Searsport harbor dredging project. Every person who spoke was opposed to the Army Corps of Engineer’s plan to dredge nearly a million cubic yards of material from the harbor and dump it near Islesboro. The public hearing was held by the Maine Department of Marine Resources who will advise the Department of Environmental Protection about potential impacts on the fisheries. Before the public spoke, the DMR staff explained the limited scope of the meeting and gave a brief overview of the proposal. We hear from them and from members of the public — including lobstermen and scientists — who spoke at the hearing.

FMI re the “Dawson Alternative”:

WERU News Report 6/3/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

An update on the controversial Searsport Harbor dredging project

The Department of Marine Resources is holding a public hearing next week (Tuesday 6/9/15, 6pm at Searsport District High School) focused on the fisheries impacts of the proposal to dredge nearly a million cubic yards of possibly contaminated silt from Searsport Harbor and dump it elsewhere in Penobscot Bay.

Additionally, attorney Kim Tucker (our guest today) has submitted a formal request for the Board of Environmental Protection to take over jurisdiction on the project. She represents the Maine Lobstering Union; the Lincolnville Lobstermen’s Association (including all licensed lobstermen and their sternmen who fish from Lincolnville, Maine); the Pemaquid Mussel Farm (“PMF”), located off Northport on land leased for cultivation of mussels; the Sierra Club of Maine (“Sierra Club”); the citizens and small business owners from the Searsport area known and incorporated as “Thanks But No Tank” (“TBNT”); as well as Armindy McFadden, co-owner and lease holder of the PMF off Northport, and a seaweed cultivation license holder and harvester off Searsport; and Mike Hutchings, western Penobscot Bay lobsterman, Zone D Lobster Council member from District 10 and the Lincolnville Harbor Master.

The rationale for this Army Corps of Engineers project is that the shipping channel needs to be expanded in order to increase commerce in the area – an assertion that opponents reject.
The location of the proposed dredging is in close proximity to an area that has been closed to lobstering and shell fishing because of mercury contamination, and testing for a nearby private dredging project found levels of heavy metals and other toxins that were several times about the acceptable limits. While proponents of the project claim that their own testing proves that the materials to be dredged are clean, their methods have been called into question by a scientist specializing in this type of testing who did a thorough review of their work.

The projected economic impacts of the project have also been called into question. Those who are promoting the project say increasing the depth of the shipping channel is necessary in order to allow larger commercial vessels to enter the port. They say that increased oil tanker traffic will lead to result in lower energy costs and that increased traffic in general will be a boon to the local economy. But many people who make their living on the bay are skeptical about the projected increase in shipping traffic. They have also expressed fears that the project jeopardizes an already booming local fishery and the tourism industry – all for the benefit of large multinational companies. The estimated $13 million dollar tab for the project would be paid by tax payers.

WERU News Report 2/18/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer/Reporter: John Greenman

Segment 1: WERU board votes to divest from fossil fuels, moving to a “socially-responsible” investment fund. WERU General Manager Matt Murphy and Board President John Greenman join us with the details.

Segment 2: A new report from Naomi Schalit of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, that will give you a clear idea of what you’re up against when you try to have some influence over your state legislators. Can you compete with the luxury resort stay and steak dinners offered by Time Warner?
(Full report:

Segment 3: Latest news on some of the threats to Penobscot Bay, as well as plans for developing a Bay Keeper position with guests Ron Huber, Executive Director of Friends of Penobscot Bay and Sheila Dassatt, Executive Director of the Downeast Lobstermen’s Association. We open the phone lines for listener calls. FMI: &

WERU News Report 12/9/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

The Department of Marine Resources held a public hearing in Searsport last night on a proposal for maintanence dredging at the Sprague Energy docks in that town. As we’ve reported previously, testing that was done last year near the Sprague piers found high levels– many above reporting limits–of a large variety of contaminants and known carcinogens including pesticides, heavy metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In addition, Dr. Kevin Yeager, an independent scientist hired by the federal court in the Holtrachem mercury case, has examined the testing that was done in this case, and raised concerns that it was inadequate. The DMR will report any concerns about impacts on the fisheries to the Department of Environmental Resources. Today on the News Report, we bring you to last night’s hearing:

WERU News Report 10/29/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

Segment 1: Documents recently discovered by the Friends of Penobscot Bay describe disturbing details of a 1960s site visit of the chemical company on Kidder Point on the shore in Searsport — we discuss the findings with FoPB Director Ron Huber

Segment 2: What question would YOU ask the candidates running in this year’s elections?


WERU News Report 10/8/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

The site of the GAC Chemical plant on the shoreline in Searsport has been the location of chemical & fertilizer
companies dating back to the early 1900s. The beach is littered with relics of the industrial past, but little was
known about what toxic legacy was left behind — until local residents, tired of refusals from state and federal
agencies, took matters into their own hands. In recent days news broke that DEP may be stepping in — but can they be counted on to conduct a full assessment? We talk with Ron Huber, Executive Director of Friends of Penobscot Bay; Sheila Dassatt, Executive Director of Downeast Lobstermen’s Association; Nick Seeger, Friends of Penobscot Bay.

(Photos that accompany this story can be found on the WERU facebook page: )