PROSPECT HARBOR — While Maine officials work on a deal to save the nation’s last sardine cannery, the Department of Labor has approved federal help for workers.

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins say the labor department has approved Trade Adjustment Assistance for the roughly 130 workers at the Stinson Sardine Cannery in Prospect Harbor, which shut down this week. The program provides job retraining services and help with job searching.

The senators say they also are encouraged by negotiations with a potential buyer for the facility that could retain some of the current work force.

A spokesman for Gov. John Baldacci has said the prospective buyer would give hiring preference to current employees and that the new operation could be up and running in August.

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