The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued permits to the state’s Municipal Review Committee and Fiberight to build a new waste management plant in Hampden.
But while some see this as an achievement, Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., the state’s current waste hauler, and the state’s largest environmental advocacy group still oppose the project.
Previously, the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. facility handled the region’s waste. But the Municipal Review Committee, which represents 187 Maine municipalities, has not renewed its energy purchasing agreement with the facility. It runs out in 2018. Instead, the MRC backed the plan to build a new facility in Hampden.
Meanwhile, the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. and Casella Waste Systems reached a deal under which Casella will deliver commercial waste from the region to Penobscot’s incinerator in Orrington, Maine.
CentralMaine.com has more information on this debate:
All of the opposition comments on the permits submitted to the DEP requested a public hearing on the issue. But according to DEP spokesman David Madore, the request for a hearing was not made in time for the DEP to consider it – coming nearly a full year after the deadline. The rules on hearings state that a request must be received in writing “no later than 20 days after the application is accepted as complete for processing,” and Fiberight’s applications were accepted as complete for processing on July 15, 2015.
When public hearing requests were received at the time of the application’s acceptance – this past Friday – the DEP found that there no “credible, conflicting technical information” that merited a hearing, Madore said in an email Monday.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine, which had submitted an opposition comment on the draft permits, said in a statement it was “dumbfounded” at the DEP’s approval of the permits.
The council previously had contended that the project proposal does not align with the waste management hierarchy, that it does not provide adequate information on Fiberight’s technical ability to run the plant and that Fiberight CEO Craig Stuart-Paul had not disclosed adequately previous violations of the EPA’s Clean Water Act from an ethanol spill in its Iowa plant. Fiberight disclosed this information to the DEP a few days before the draft license was released, according to the Natural Resources Council.