HAMPDEN, Maine — After a public hearing that spanned five nights going back to April, members of Hampden’s Planning Board on Tuesday night granted the Municipal Review Committee and its partner Fiberight LLC permission to construct a $69 million state-of-the-art waste-to-energy plant.
Site plan and conditional use approval from the town of Hampden was the final approval that Fiberight, which will operate the plant, and the nonprofit group representing the trash disposal interests of nearly 190 Maine communities and solid waste districts needed in order to move ahead on construction of the facility, which will be located at a site off Cold Brook Road.
The decision to grant site plan approval came after members deemed the joint application from the MRC and Fiberight complete.
In Hampden, which has voted to send its solid waste to Fiberight, concerns about an increase in truck traffic that would occur if the facility is built and the potential for odor have dominated public comment.
Concerns also have been raised about air emissions, although the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s draft permit for emissions calls the plant a “minor source” of emitted material.
The review for local approval for the project included examination of height, setback, traffic, stormwater and other standards. To that end, the planning board imposed several conditions Tuesday night regarding truck traffic and odor.
While the town can’t force haulers to use the routes it prefers to keep trash trucks out of residential areas and off main streets, the project partners did say they could ban those who refuse to use the preferred routes.
Another condition is an odor complaint response protocol that includes a 24-hour hot line and requirements that the Department of Environmental Protection and the town be notified and that both be kept apprised of how those complaints were addressed.
The Department of Environmental Protection recently issued the three state permits needed for the proposed waste processing plant in Hampden, marking what officials termed a “milestone” in the development of the project.
The MRC is working with Maryland-based Fiberight LLC on a proposed $69 million facility in Hampden to turn trash into biofuel and recycle other materials.
The Department of Environmental Protection issued final Solid Waste, Air Emissions and Stormwater Management and Natural Resources Protection Act permits for the planned waste-to-energy plant proposed for the “triangle” area between Ammo Industrial Park, Interstate 95 and Coldbrook Road.
The solid waste permit lists 12 conditions, including monthly reports, providing an updated operations manual before opening and a bat survey, among other items.
Fiberight anticipates it will complete the engineering and financing for the project later this summer, with construction and commissioning running through 2017, Craig Stuart-Paul, Fiberight’s CEO, said earlier this month.
The project has been a tough sell for some in Hampden because of the town’s rocky history with solid waste projects.
The town once was the final destination for the region’s trash and waste from outside Maine. The former Pine Tree Landfill operated for 35 years before it stopped accepting waste in June 2010.
Called the Sawyer Environmental Recovery Facility when it opened in 1975, the Hampden landfill was unlined and its emissions were unregulated.
Neighbors complained about the landfill stench, trash fires, environmental damage and heavy truck traffic. Other concerns included allowing out-of-state waste to be dumped in Hampden, which the MRC said will not occur at the proposed Hampden facility.