A sign warns against trespassing at the former Keddy Mill along Depot Street in Windham in 2011. Press Herald staff photo

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that it’s moving forward with a proposal to clean up a polluted mill site in Windham that has been awaiting remediation for over 20 years.

The EPA is estimating it will take two to four years and $17 million to demolish the building at the Keddy Mill complex at 7 Depot St. and clean up the soil and debris contaminated with potentially toxic materials such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The Keddy Mill, a rapidly deteriorating concrete building in South Windham, has a history of cleanup efforts that date back over two decades and have so far progressed slowly.

The site has been home to a variety of mills for grist, pulp, box-board manufacturing and steel production from the mid 1700s through 1997.  Since the mid-1990s, developers, property owners, the town of Windham, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and EPA have been evaluating the level of toxic contaminants present on the grounds.

Fuel oil was found in a stormwater culvert, petroleum was found in the soil, vandals spilled fluid containing PCBs from old electrical equipment inside the building, and PCBs spread into adjacent portions of the Presumpscot River bed.

As time has passed and environmental evaluations have continued, the level of contamination has grown to the point that it required EPA intervention. The cleanup plans shifted from the hands of the current property owners to the Maine DEP, which was considering a “brownfield designation,” and then finally to the EPA in 2014.


That year, after many evaluations, EPA subsequently designated the Keddy Mill complex a Superfund site on the National Priorities List, a program that locates, investigates and cleans up hazardous waste sites. The agency tries to fund these projects with money from the parties responsible for the contamination. If those responsible can’t be identified, the cleanup is funded by the federal government.

In this case, the EPA identified ITT LLC as the “potentially responsible party” and reached an agreement with the company in August 2022. The EPA hasn’t released any information on why ITT LLC, an industrial manufacturer, is the potentially responsible party.

Otherwise, the Keddy Mill has sat abandoned, rapidly deteriorating and sometimes vandalized under a variety of owners, including the town, since 1997.

And town officials said that the dormant buildings and the lack of progress in any restoration efforts have been to the detriment of Windham and its residents.


Windham Town Councilor David Nadeau said that having a deteriorating building at the center of a neighborhood has deterred any development over the years.


“When you got a mill that’s very high on EPA’s site because of contamination, who wants to invest in the area? When people look at your town and see that (abandoned building), how many want to come?” Nadeau said. “Very few people have been willing to invest in the area because of the site. … That’s frustrating.”

Part of Nadeau’s frustration stems from what he said has been EPA’s slow progress since it took on the responsibility of overseeing the cleanup.

“We’ve always been inquiring, ‘Where is it at? Where is it at? Where is it at?’ and been informed where it’s at – but you can’t push EPA,” he said.

Town Manager Barry Tibbetts, however, said that while the town doesn’t necessarily get a say in the final decision or how the process moves along, the EPA has been transparent in what is an understandably a slow and complicated process.

“It just takes a long time to clean up a site and to get on the priority list. And we now are and it’s now being addressed and now’s our turn,” Tibbetts said.

The EPA is gathering input from the public during an information session at South Windham Station on Tuesday, in a public comment period that will run through the end of July and at a public hearing on July 28.


As of now, the restoration plan involves an estimated $17 million, 10-step process.

Over the course of two to four years, design plans will be finalized, the mill complex will be demolished, contaminated soil and debris will be excavated, and the site and the nearby riverbed will be evaluated to evaluate if the cleanup has been a success. The EPA hasn’t yet announced when the restoration project will begin.

Tibbetts said the town also has been given the green light to put out a request for proposals and find a developer who can begin to give the site a new life as soon as it’s restored.

He and Nadeau both have big dreams for what that future will be. They both envision more housing that capitalizes on the view of the Presumpscot River, space for businesses like a restaurant or small retail stores and other kinds of development that will make South Windham a hub for economic activity.

“That would attract more people to the area and the people already in the area would be able to walk to and enjoy it,” Nadeau said. “Right on the river, there’s a lot of potential there for good development.”

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