One of Milford's largest vacant buildings may be sold to a new owner next month. And a byproduct of its industrial past — petroleum hydrocarbons found in soil on the site — will be removed at the current owner's expense.
This is what Milford Selectmen were told this week, when the owner of the 140,000-square-foot property at 47 Sumner St. requested access to town-owned land to conduct tests for the presence of any petroleum movement.
The petroleum releases, from former owners of the site, have been reported to the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to John Finley, manager of Milford Common Real Estate Trust. "The trust has assumed financial liability with respect to these releases and we will indemnify the town of Milford from any liability associated with these petroleum releases," he wrote, in a letter to Town Administrator Louis Celozzi.
Selectmen directed Town Counsel Gerry Moody to develop an indeminfication agreement to protect the town, should any substance be detected on the adjacent town lands — including a section of the Milford Upper Charles Trail and the Votolato baseball field.
Testing, through digging and placement of monitoring wells, will be conducted by Marlborough-based Enstrat. According to Finley, petroleum in soil and in groundwater has already been detected in two areas on the property, including one area of the parking lot, near the entrance to Maine Oxy, and another near the bike trail.
The company wants to be able to place the monitoring wells 5 to 10 feet into town property, to test for contaminants. Excavation will not affect the bike path, selectmen were told Monday.
Finley told selectmen he purchased the property in 1984, and "to be perfectly honest, I didn't know any of this stuff was here."
For the pending sale to the non-profit corporation, Planet Aid, he has placed $400,000 into escrow for the cleanup, Finley said.
The structure now is mostly vacant. One tenant, Maine Oxy, is located on the southern end of the structure, and will remain after the sale. The closing is scheduled for Oct. 12.