The Fiberight facility in Hampden is under construction. The facility is expected to be fully operational by January of 2019. Credit: Gabor Degre

The three-acre Fiberight plant in Hampden is almost halfway complete — its walls have been erected, most of the roof has been installed, starting next week the concrete will be poured and equipment has started to arrive from overseas.

The recycling end of the 144,000-square-foot state-of-the-art waste processing plant is expected to be operational by September, and if all goes according to plan, the 600,000-gallon anaerobic digestion tank will process waste by early 2019, Fiberight CEO Craig Stuart-Paul said Monday during a tour of the plant.

Parts of the anaerobic composting tank have started arriving from Holland and are being stored at Cianbro in Brewer. The facility’s washers will arrive in the coming weeks from Ireland and pulp washing equipment has arrived from New Orleans, he said.

The plant should be fully functional by January, Stuart-Paul added.

The Hampden facility was supposed to be operational by April 1, but it wasn’t. The 115 Municipal Review Committee member communities who signed on to build the waste-to-biofuel plant have since been contractually required to landfill their waste until Fiberight comes online.

On June 11, the plant was humming with construction activity but still had a dirt floor. When it opens, it will be the largest waste-to-biofuel plant of its kind in the country, processing up to 180,000 tons of waste annually.

Fiberight and MRC have been sharply criticized by some residents in MRC communities for the delay that has forced towns and cities in central, Down East and northern Maine to dispose of their waste in the least sustainable way.

“We lost time,” Stuart-Paul said, referring to winter weather and the appeal of Fiberight’s state licenses by competitor, Penobscot Energy Recovery Center. “Now, we don’t have any roadblocks. In the next 90 days, you’ll see a lot of equipment going in.”

Concrete will be poured incrementally beginning on June 22 and will wrap up the week of the Fourth of July, said Construction Manager Dale Daniel, at which point recycling equipment will be moved in and assembled.

Earlier this month, as an alternative to landfilling, the MRC Board of Directors agreed to allow its member communities to pay more and send their waste to be processed into electricity at PERC until the Fiberight plant is open.

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