Orrington Residents Vote on HoltraChem Clean-up Plan 

Residents in Orrington went to the polls Friday to voice their opinions on a clean-up plan for the former HoltraChem site.Town selectmen recently voted for a less extensive and less expensive way to rid the area of years of toxic materials. But some residents say a more extensive plan should be followed to deal with the contaminated land.By lunchtime, hundreds of people had already cast their ballots.Some voters told us they want their selectmen’s decision on the former HoltraChem site repealed, favoring instead a state plan to get rid of all the soil tainted with hazardous waste.”I think it should be completely cleaned up. I don’t think they should leave the rest of the mercury in the banks of the Penobscot River because eventually it’s going to cause even more problems,” says resident Rod Mclean.”I hope that the town will pass a ‘yes’ vote and will send a clear message to the DEP, BEP and Mallinckrodt, that we want it cleaned out,” says resident Jan Kimball.Other voters told us they support their selectmen’s decision to move forward with a remediation plan favored by the company that’s responsible for the property. That would remove only the most-toxic land and seal the rest in place.”I’m really concerned about the environment and the river, health issues, but I have thought over and over again what to do and I think I’m going to let the selectmen decide. I think they’ve got the most information,” says resident Peggy Swett.”If the town leaders and so forth wanted this to happen, I felt that we elected them and should stand behind them,” says resident Barbara Haskell.Several voters said it wasn’t a decision they reached easily.”There are people who are supposedly experts on both sides of the issues and they both have opposing views on what you should do,” says resident Ronald Elkin.The Maine Board of Environmental Protection is expected to have the final say on the clean-up effort in the coming months. How much this referendum even means is in question, since the time for public testimony for the state has passed.”I do feel a little disillusioned about coming to vote and then it may not matter anyway, they may decide all on their own and I don’t like that,” says resident Elaine Elkin.Still, folks on both sides told us they want to have their say on such an important issue.”At least you’ve spoken your mind,” Swett says. “If it makes a difference, great. If not, at least they’ve heard you.”