WILTON — The town of Wilton has two realistic options for the environmental cleanup of the Forster Mill site, but both come with a high price tag for the ultimate remediation and demolition of the crumbling former mill, a Maine Department of Environmental Protection agent told residents at the second public hearing on the project Tuesday night.

The first option includes asbestos abatement, removal of hazardous materials, demolition of the building and then excavation of any contaminated soil from the site and replacement of it with clean fill, for a cost of $900,000 to $1.2 million, said Tracy Kelly of the Maine DEP. Under the the second option, instead of removing contaminated soil after the building had undergone remediation and demolition, any contaminated soil would be capped, for a cost of $1.2 to $1.8 million.

The first option “would be a little more reliable because if you do find contaminants under the building, you have removed (them),” Kelly said.

The hearing was the last public meeting on the project before Town Manager Rhona Irish submits three grant applications to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for brownfields funding of the cleanup project.

In order to follow through with the mill cleanup, Wilton needs funding assistance. The applications Irish is submitting Friday are for three $200,000 brownfields grants. Each grant would require a $40,000 funding match on the town’s part. Originally, Irish was going to request that the EPA waive the funding matches; but with the new cleanup cost estimates, Irish said the town would have to chip in on the project’s funding anyway.

“We’re either going to come up with it on the cost share end or the leveraging end … just to make sure the whole project does get completed,” Irish said.

As part of the site’s inclusion in the brownfields program, run by the Maine DEP and the EPA, since the town acquired the property in March the site has undergone two phases of environmental assessments. At the first public hearing on Dec. 1, Irish said that the phase one assessment compiled an overall history of the site and a survey of asbestos levels within the building, as well as a hazardous materials inventory. The EPA-funded assessment discovered a significant amount of asbestos that Irish said would cost about $200,000 for abatement. The assessment also found containers of hazardous materials throughout this site, as well as PCPs in the window caulking.

Complete results of the phase two assessment and hazardous materials inventory were made available to Irish on Dec. 11 and presented to residents at Tuesday’s hearing.

The phase two environmental investigation portion of the assessment process concluded that while some underground areas of the site don’t have hazardous levels of contaminants, some hazardous levels were found around an old 100,000-gallon underground storage tank along with hazardous compounds that were found in the riverbed where the river runs under the mill.

Kelly and Irish stressed that the full scope of the underground environmental contaminants will not be known until the mill can be demolished, because the structure is too unsafe to conduct the necessary tests. Demolition of the building alone could cost $600,000, Irish said.

While demolition of a building typically is not covered by EPA brownfields funding, Kelly said that because the ultimate remediation of the site depends on the removal of the building, the funding probably could be used for the demolition in this case if it is awarded to Wilton.

The EPA is expected to announce funding awards in April, Irish said previously.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate