March 6, 2013

Westbrook paper mill changes course, may remove dam

The company's plan is met with skepticism by some environmental advocates.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Today's poll: Saccarappa Dam

Do you think it's a good idea to remove the dam on the Presumpscot River at Saccarappa Falls?

Yes

No

View Results

click image to enlarge

Sappi's Saccarappa Dam on the Presumpscot River in Westbrook on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

"The Presumpscot River runs through the heart of our community and we think it is the key to our environmental and economic revitalization," said Mayor Colleen Hilton in a prepared statement.

When asked why Sappi is suddenly interested in removing the dam, Rieke stressed the community benefit and said losing the energy source would not significantly affect the operation of the mill.

At least one conservationist was dubious about the announcement.

"I have to imagine that Sappi's interest here is not the benefit of the river or Westbrook, but the bottom line," said Mahoney, with the Conservation Law Foundation.

He said, "My real concern is that this announcement ... looks to be preparing the ground for additional delay."

Mahoney cited an announcement that Sappi made in 2007 that it was going to remove the Cumberland Mills Dam -- a plan it pulled out of a year later, without explanation.

Shaughnessy, with the Friends of the Presumpscot River, said he will watch closely to see that Sappi meets its requirements to allow fish to pass by the spring of 2015, but he was less skeptical of the company's motivation.

"It is really nice to see Sappi coming around like this," he said

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

lbridgers@pressherald.com

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Today's poll: Saccarappa Dam

Do you think it's a good idea to remove the dam on the Presumpscot River at Saccarappa Falls?

Yes

No

View Results