Mount Desert fined for sewage violations

Posted Nov. 14, 2011, at 5:45 p.m.

MOUNT DESERT, Maine — The town has been fined more than $11,000 by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for violating state wastewater regulations.

The fine, according to a statement recently released by DEP, was imposed because the town failed “to properly operate and maintain the wastewater treatment system in good working order.” The town also exceeded license limits for effluent discharges, the statement indicated.

The town was fined and since has paid $11,692 for the violations. Of that amount, $9,353 is going to the city of Ellsworth to help fund fire and hazardous material equipment and training, according to DEP.

Durlin Lunt, Mount Desert’s town manager, said Monday that the town has multiple wastewater treatment plants in various villages — one in Northeast Harbor, one in Seal Harbor (which also serves Otter Creek), and one in Somesville. The violations occurred at the town’s sewage treatment plant in Somesville a few years ago, he said.

The town since has substantially upgraded the facility, according to Lunt. It was rebuilt in 2009 after local voters approved the $6.5 million project at Mount Desert’s 2008 annual town meeting.

“It was an older plant,” Lunt said Monday.

Operation of the outdated old plant was complicated by substandard operating practices but Mount Desert since has hired a new head operator for its multiple sewage treatment plants, the town manager said.

Lunt said the town has spent a lot of money in recent years on upgrading its wastewater treatment facilities — in 2004, it spent $4.9 million to expand the Seal Harbor plant and to connect it to the village of Otter Creek — because it understands the importance of protecting the town and Mount Desert Island as a tourist destination.

“If you don’t have a clean environment, you’re pretty much out of business,” Lunt said.

In other recent enforcement actions, DEP ordered:

• Megquier & Jones of South Portland to pay a $15,000 penalty and Washburn & Doughty of Boothbay to pay a $9,900 penalty for separate incidents of improper handling of hazardous waste.

• Paul White of Raymond to pay a $1,100 penalty and Daniel Williams of Shapleigh to pay a $1,342 penalty for separate incidents of violating the Natural Resources Protection Act for improper construction next to a great pond.

DEP also indicated that Erich Borguss of Bucksport recently was found by a judgment in Ellsworth District Court to have violated Maine’s Natural Resources Protection Act by improperly placing stone, soil and other materials in and around Long Pond and an adjacent stream. Borguss was ordered by the court to pay a civil penalty of $3,060 and since has restored the site, according to the DEP statement.

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