Site History

The former Prime Tanning site in downtown Berwick, Maine has sat vacant since 2008 when Prime Tanning consolidated its operations in Hartland. The 11 acre site was host to various manufacturing operations from 1877 to 2008, including:

  • Leather tanning and processing complex,
  • Wool pulling works facility,
  • Sash and door factory,
  • Reed factory,
  • Carriage factory,
  • Oil company,
  • Laundry facility,
  • Shoe factory, and
  • Lumber company.

A previous Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) evaluated the site and these historic uses and identified numerous activities that may have resulted in the release of petroleum products or hazardous substances. Chemicals of concern included, but were not limited to:

  • Heavy metals from tanning chemicals,
  • Dry cleaning solvents,
  • Petroleum fuels from underground storage tanks,
  • Various manufacturing solvents,
  • Automotive maintenance oils and solvents, and
  • PCBs in transformer oils.

 Phase II ESA

St.Germain developed a conceptual site model and Phase II ESA work scope for the Maine DEP Brownfields Program to fully investigate chemical use areas on the site and to identify areas in need of remediation. St.Germain collected soil vapor, soil, and ground water samples for analysis of one or more of the following parameters:

  • Air Petroleum Hydrocarbons (APH),
  • Extractable Petroleum Hydrocarbons (EPH),
  • Volatile Petroleum Hydrocarbons (VPH),
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs),
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs),
  • Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls, and
  • Heavy metals.


After reviewing soil, vapor and ground water results, comparing results to Maine DEP cleanup guidelines, and determining ground water elevations and flow on site, St.Germain and the Maine DEP concluded that there were no significant obstacles to redeveloping the site. While there were detections of various contaminants across the site, levels were generally at or below clean-up standards and/or can be managed through limited administrative controls put on certain redevelopment activities. These controls have been communicated to future developers of the site and will be addressed during construction and maintenance activities.

The long feared and expected contamination, along with potentially expensive remediation did not materialize. The Phase I and Phase II ESAs effectively quantified previously unknown risks and made the site immediately available for redevelopment.

Maine DEP Brownfields Program
The Maine DEP Brownfields Program has been successfully turning around sites like Prime Tanning throughout Maine, helping cities and towns bring back idle properties onto the tax rolls, and creating new sites for businesses to grow and develop. If you are involved with a site that may be a candidate for Brownfields revitalization, contact Brian Bachmann at St.Germain Collin for more information about the application process.