This sequence of photographs is a documentary of the past and present intertwining. A discarded railroad system runs along-side the abandoned site of the once booming manufacturing business, Statler Industries Inc., and has become the backyard view for people living everyday lives in the neighboring homes.
Located along the Kennebec River in Augusta, Maine, the paper mill was the city’s largest private employer from 1969 until the company went bankrupt in 1995. Statler was considered a good corporate citizen and environmental steward by being one of the first paper mills to install a wastewater treatment plant on its property and creating a “Tree-Free Fiber” brand of recycled paper products.
American Tissue then tried to revitalize the mill but instead abandoned the plant in 2001 leaving behind a toxic mess. Mehdi Gabayzadeh, CEO of American Tissue was convicted and sent to prison for 15 years for committing fraud while trying to save his company from bankruptcy.
The city of Augusta seized the property through tax foreclosure and demolished the mill in 2009 while taxpayers were left paying for costly clean-up of a large volume of toxic chemicals and debris. These 2014 photographs are a reminder of a job that is incomplete despite hundreds of thousands of dollars spent and the citizens of Augusta having to live along side of it every day.