LINCOLN, Maine — Concerns about mercury, asbestos and other contaminants stopped town leaders from voting Monday to replace the town’s trash compactor for $99,070.
During its meeting Monday, the Town Council tabled a motion to award the bid to Atlantic Recycling Equipment of New Hampshire to replace the town’s 32-year-old compactor so that Public Works Director David Lloyd could ask Atlantic whether it would clean up the compactor site at the town transfer station on Park Avenue as part of installing a new machine.
Lloyd, who has tried to secure from the council funding to clean and replace the compactor for two years, said he feared that residents would be left with nowhere to bring trash if the old compactor failed. The machine works but isn’t likely to last much longer, he said.
Councilors had too many questions about the old compactor to vote for the purchase, which had been tabled at the council’s previous meeting, Councilor Curt Ring said.
Councilor Michael Ireland questioned whether the 32-year-old machine was maintained properly. He said that he and his wife, Councilor Marscella Ireland, visited it before Monday’s meeting and saw that its intakes and discharge vents were clogged.
“I cannot say that we need to spend this money on a new compactor,” Michael Ireland said. “It has progressively gotten worse but we have not followed through steps to do everything we can to maintain that machine.”
Lloyd replied that his department had maintained the machine as best it could.
“The machine has dust on it but for that unit to last 32 years” is testament to its excellent maintenance, Lloyd said.
But Lloyd doesn’t dare send workers into the bowels of it to clean it for fear of the contaminants, he said. Ring agreed with Lloyd.
“God only knows what has been thrown into that hopper for over 30 years,” Ring said.
The town might face cleanup costs of $10,000 to $15,000 if Atlantic doesn’t do cleanup as part of its installation of its new machine, officials said.
Atlantic submitted the lowest bid. Maguire Equipment Inc. was the only other bidder, seeking $126,000.
Money for the new machine would come from existing town accounts and not cause any tax increases, interim Town Manager William Lawrence said.