Suspicious odor in Bangor area investigated

Posted Aug. 12, 2010, at 1:15 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Residents along the Penobscot River south of the Old Town Fuel & Fiber mill smelled something suspicious in the air Wednesday night and called their local fire departments and Bangor Gas.

“It wasn’t just us” investigating the suspicious odor, Assistant Bangor Fire Chief Scott Bostock said Thursday morning. “Brewer had the same call,” as did Orono and Old Town.

Firefighters from those four communities started getting calls at about 9:30 p.m. to investigate reports of a strong odor, possibly propane, but did not find any broken gas pipes or anything suspicious.

Bangor Gas personnel also were called to look into the matter and determined it was not their natural gas lines.

“We think it was the mill in Old Town — one of their processors,” Bostock said.

Dan Bird, the human resource manager for Old Town Fuel & Fiber, and another man working at the plant said they believed the mill was not the source of the odor.

“I just cannot fathom how any fugitive odor can escape from here to Bangor and Brewer,” Bird said. “That does not make any sense to me.”

Bird said no one at the plant had discussed any odor problems at the company’s morning meeting, but he would conduct an investigation.

“That’s bizarre,” he said, reacting to the news the mill had been blamed for the odor. “There is nothing that would reach” Bangor.

Since the mill is enclosed, the only area of the plant that causes an odor is the wastewater treatment plant, which is highly regulated and treated with biological odor control chemicals to control the smell, Bird noted.

He did say there are other odor-causing industries in the Bangor area that could have been responsible.

“Between here and Bangor is the incineration plant in Veazie incinerating garbage,” he said. “There is a landfill next to the highway, and it’s essentially the same odor” that people complained about on Wednesday.

“There are other sources [in] the Bangor area that I would throw a dart at, if I was throwing darts,” Bird said.

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