RICHMOND — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has awarded a $429,267 grant to clean up contaminated land around Clark’s Mill in Shannock Village. Built in 1848, the mill, on the Pawcatuck River, is currently owned by FXF Hydro, which submitted the grant application in December.
DEM Principal Engineer Gary Jablonski said the soil had been contaminated with oil and heavy metals, both of which, he noted, are typical at old mill sites.
“The issue on our end is that there’s some contaminated soil,” he said. “They used to have some underground storage tanks there, so they had some contamination from the underground storage tanks and it being a mill building, there’s some contaminants in the soil as well.”
Jablonski said the soil would be removed from the site and taken away.
“What they’re planning on doing is a ‘dig and haul,’ digging up the contaminated soil, take it off the site, and then put a cap on the site as well so make sure no one else can have direct contact with it,” he said.
The Shannock Village project is one of 10 initiatives in eight communities throughout the state that are sharing $3.7 million in grants through the 2016 Green Economy bond.
Once the cleanups are complete, the state hopes the properties will be redeveloped, creating jobs and stimulating local economies.
“Funding from the Green Economy Bond is helping us transform brownfields into productive spaces that will benefit Rhode Island’s environment and economy and create jobs,” DEM Director Janet Coit said.
“There are hundreds of these former industrial sites scattered across Rhode Island, and it’s crucial that we continue to invest in their cleanup. We are excited to support so many worthy projects and look forward to celebrating their success.”
“They want to bring it back, make it useful again,” Jablonski said of Clark’s mill. “Nothing’s going on there. We’d like jobs to come into that area, so it hits all the boxes.”
The decontamination work will begin in the spring.
“They’re going to be doing this in phases, so the first phase would be getting rid of the contamination, and then the second phase would be rehabbing the buildings, and the third phase would be getting different entities into the building to bring it back up on the tax roll,” Jablonski said.
Rep. Justin Price, R-Richmond, said he was pleased that the project could now move forward.
“It’s a beautiful location and this grant will let it see its full potential,” he said.