China, Vassalboro get good news about trash disposal

by Mary Grow

China and Vassalboro town managers shared good news with their respective selectboards at Jan. 19 (China) and Jan. 21 (Vassalboro) meetings: the trash recycling facility in Hampden appears ready to reopen this summer.

A company called Delta Thermo Energy, Inc. (DTE) has agreed to buy the Fiberight facility to which China, Vassalboro and 113 other Maine municipalities sent waste.

Fiberight was previously owned by Coastal Resources of Maine, which closed it for financial reasons at the end of May 2020. DTE is based in Feasterville Trevose, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia.

The Municipal Review Committee (MRC) that represents the 115 Maine towns and cities has been searching for a new owner for the facility. MRC members considered several other firms before reaching agreement with DTE in late December.

DTE founder and chief executive officer Robert van Naarden participated in a Jan. 19 virtual meeting with MRC members. Van Naarden estimated reaching final agreement will take another two months, and after that DTE will need another four to six months to re-start operations. He plans to rehire former staff who are available, to run three shifts with 30 to 35 employees per shift and temporarily to follow Fiberight procedures.

After the first six months, he said, DTE intends to start improving the facility and the process. He also proposed setting up a citizen advisory board to work with MRC and member towns and cities.

Van Naarden said he does not intend to increase the tipping fees charged under current contracts with member municipalities.

During the time the facility was closed, much of former Fiberight users’ trash was landfilled in existing large landfills in Norridgewock and Alton. The MRC made sure the Hampden plant was monitored and maintained, Vassalboro Town Manager Mary Sabins said.

DTE’s website and van Naarden’s remarks emphasize DTE’s commitment to environmental protection. The company’s stated goal is to produce energy in a way that is sustainable, renewable and environmentally harmless.

Its process, trademarked as Green Waste to Fuel, converts municipal waste into fuel in a way that is “sustainable, clean and safe,” and its plants produce near-zero emissions. The company website says the patented/patent pending process uses a technology called hydrothermal decomposition.

According to information from the selectboard meetings and from websites, DTE already has facilities in Pennsylvania and in multiple foreign countries, including Germany, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.


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