Experts: Penobscot River Profoundly Contaminated by Mercury Pollution

One week into the trial to determine whether Mallinckrodt should be held responsible for decades of mercury pollution along the Penobscot River, experts testified about the level and scope of contamination in the river.

Dr. Christopher Whipple, a member of the Penobscot River Study Panel, testified that the river has remained too contaminated for too long to believe that the it will- as Mallinckrodt's experts claim - simply clean itself up in any reasonable amount of time. Dr. Whipple recommended that the court order investigation into active remediation to clean up the river, bringing together independent scientists and engineers to explore all possible remedial options.

Dr. Philippe Grandjean, a renowned expert in the human health effects of exposure to toxic chemicals, testified emphatically that mercury levels in Penobscot eels, lobsters, and black ducks substantially exceed both the mercury criterion set by EPA and the more protective action level set by the state of Maine.

"After listening to the testimony of Dr. Grandjean and other experts, it's clear that the river has been severely contaminated by the mercury pollution," said Tim Conmee, an MPA member from Orrington who attended the court hearing. "The science is clear - the damage has been done. Now it's time for Mallinckrodt to be held accountable for cleaning up the mess."

During opening arguments, Judge Woodcock acknowledged the district court's 2002 finding that the evidence was clear that Mallinckrodt has been a dominant source of mercury in the Penobscot River and emphasized that the company bears a heavy burden in attempting to challenge the district court's earlier finding.