CHINA: Committee discusses out-of-town disposal options

by Mary Grow

At their Feb. 8 meeting, China Transfer Station Committee members continued discussion of out-of-town disposal options and possible changes at the local disposal facility (see The Town Line, Jan. 20, p. 3). They again reached no conclusions.

After years of sending trash to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Corporation (PERC) incinerator, China and more than 100 other Maine towns and cities joined the proposed trash-to-energy facility at Hampden. One component of the deal was creation of the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), which represents member towns.

The facility has been closed since May 2020, and attempts to reopen it or to find a buyer who would reopen it have failed. Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood described MRC’s executive director, Michael Carroll, and committee members as “super-frustrated.”

Hapgood said an executive-session MRC meeting is scheduled for the week of Feb. 14, after which there might be additional information.

Mark Davis, acting chairman of the China committee, is also super-frustrated. He wants China to get out of the project, and suggested hiring another attorney to find a legal way if town attorney Amanda Meader doesn’t have time to explore options.

With the Hampden plant not operating, some towns’ waste is going again to PERC and some is being landfilled. Davis is indignant that China’s trash is landfilled. His preferred option is an incinerator at the China transfer station.

Palermo representative Robert Kurek said the multi-town project was a sound idea, and members signed up because PERC was about to raise its fees. But the Hampden facility was too ambitious.

Hapgood reminded Davis that legal advice costs money.

Committee members returned to discussion of other topics from their previous meeting.

There is no information from contractors on building a cover for the crusher box.

Hagood had not analyzed results of her just-completed survey of residents and therefore was not ready to make a recommendation on new transfer station hours.

China select board members are in favor of replacing the current radio frequency identification (RFID) tags with stickers. Kurek is unenthusiastic. There is no consensus among committee members on whether there should be a charge for stickers and if there is, how much it should be.

Kurek again explained how the contract between China and Palermo sets requirements for changing the price Palermo residents pay for their special trash bags. He planned to repeat the explanation for China select board members at their Feb. 14 meeting.

Hapgood said select board members are open to the idea of adding a guard shack at the transfer station entrance. They assigned the proposal to board member and contractor Blane Casey.

The next Transfer Station Committee meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 8.

An article in the Dec. 30, 2021, Mt. Desert Islander newspaper said that the technology planned for the closed Hampden plant is being used successfully in similar-sized plants in Massachusetts and Utah.

The process separates saleable recyclables from mixed waste and uses the mixed waste to produce biogas, described as “a renewable energy byproduct.”

The article further said that MRC Executive Director Michael Carroll said some towns’ waste must be landfilled because the PERC incinerator at Orrington is not big enough to accommodate all of MRC’s member towns.


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