Metro

Maine briefed long ago about contaminated lobster

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A researcher who knew about high levels of mercury contamination in Maine lobster says he informed state officials years before they took action.

Chris Whipple was one of three scientists who researched mercury contamination at the mouth of the Penobscot River. The state is closing seven square miles of the area to lobstering, effective Saturday, for two years.

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The study found high levels of mercury that prompted them to present their findings to Maine and federal officials at a September 2010 workshop. The Maine Department of Marine Resources previously said it didn’t learn of the contamination until November 2013.

The federally mandated study was carried out as part of litigation involving the now-closed HoltraChem Manufacturing Co. plant in Orrington, which is blamed for dumping tons of mercury into the river.

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