WINSLOW – It’s looking more likely that the town government will be responsible for shoring up the landslide-stricken slope beneath the historic Fort Hill Cemetery.

And probably paying for it.

The state Attorney General’s Office doesn’t think the state can force the owner of the former Fort Halifax Dam, Florida Power & Light Energy, to pay for any of the work to stabilize the slope, Town Manager Michael Heavener said Thursday.

The landslide in late March pushed a small island of trees and debris into the Sebasticook River. The graves were undisturbed and remain about 30 feet from the edge, but town officials and residents are concerned about future slides.

Heavener said he received notice of the attorney general’s position Wednesday from Andrew Fisk of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The legal opinion centered on whether a condition of FPLE’s dam-removal permit could compel the company to remediate the landslide.

“Basically, the attorney general felt that they didn’t have enough evidence to support, at least at this point, enforcing the condition of the permit,” Heavener said. “It doesn’t mean more information can’t still be gathered, but it would cost a lot of money and still be no guarantee.”

The Attorney General’s Office found that the Maine Geological Survey couldn’t say definitively whether the landslide would have happened if the dam hadn’t been removed, or if supporting riprap had been put on the slope.

Shortly after the landslide, FPLE commissioned a study that concluded the slope crumbled because of unusually heavy rain, unstable soil and a small earthquake 41 miles away.

The study essentially exonerated FPLE, saying the company’s removal of the nearby Fort Halifax Dam in 2008 didn’t play a significant role. For months, town and state officials did their own assessments and found fault with the FPLE study, by Yarmouth-based engineer Craig Findlay.

FPLE has repeatedly stood by Findlay’s study and said it’s not required to do anything else about the landslide.

In November, however, the DEP concluded that, “while not a primary cause of the landslide, the removal of the Fort Halifax Dam contributed to the conditions that resulted in the failure of the slope that abuts the cemetery.” The opinion was written by Dana Murch, the department’s dams and hydropower supervisor.

As a result, the department requested “that FPL Energy participate in an equitable cost-sharing arrangement” with Winslow to shore up the slope.

Murch and other state officials weren’t sure if there was enough evidence for the department to legally enforce a condition of FPLE’s dam-removal permit. FPLE was required to “closely monitor” the slope and “promptly remediate any slumping or erosion” in order “to protect the Fort Hill Cemetery from irreparable harm,” according to the permit.

Heavener has asked the DEP to talk further with its lawyers in the Attorney General’s Office “to determine if they have sufficient information to enforce the condition of their permit.”

He doesn’t think the matter has to be resolved quickly.

“Various geo-engineers say the island that formed is providing some protection for the toe of the slope (from river erosion) and it’s going to be there for many years,” he said. “I think we do have the luxury of time and can hopefully work through this to everyone’s satisfaction.”