July 24, 2019
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Hancock County towns using workaround to handle Fiberight plant delay

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Eight Hancock County towns are sending their trash to two landfills to compensate for delays in the construction of the $69 million recycling plant in Hampden.

Construction delays of a $69 million recycling plant have forced the rerouting of trash from eight Hancock County towns to two landfills.

The Municipal Review Committee has allocated $60,000 toward the workaround with the Hancock County towns since April in anticipation of the Fiberight waste-to-biofuel facility in Hampden being behind schedule, said Greg Lounder, the committee’s director. The committee is a nonprofit organization created to help municipalities dispose of trash.

[See all Hancock County coverage here]

Construction began last July, and Fiberight was supposed to begin processing waste by April 1. Fiberight has a pretty good idea as to when the facility will begin accepting waste but is awaiting that information’s distribution to MRC member towns before releasing it publicly, said Shelby Wright, director of community services for Fiberight.

All of Fiberight’s approximately 150 municipal customers are hauling trash to landfills due to the delay. The delay in construction has displeased some of those customers, Bucksport Town Manager Susan Lessard said.

[Officials still don’t know when Fiberight will start processing waste]

“The only thing people are unhappy about, and justly so, is that our waste is going to a landfill. The fact that we are in this position right now is not making anybody happy,” Lessard said.

The workaround is nothing new. MRC “foresaw this possibility” — a delay in construction — three years ago, when Fiberight began planning its facility, Lounder said.

“We wanted to be prepared for any and all eventualities, and the development of a facility as complex as Fiberight brings with it construction schedule challenges,” Lounder said Tuesday. “Some level of delay with a facility of this complexity is expected.”

[The high cost of recycling is hitting these Greater Bangor communities hard]

MRC has reserved $1 million from its tip-fee stabilization fund, a revenue-sharing account, to cover any delays. The $60,000 is the estimated cost of hauling trash for the eight towns from April 1 to the end of September, Lounder said.

Bucksport, Frenchboro, Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor, Tremont, Trenton and the Cranberry Isles have hauled trash to the EMR recycling center in Southwest Harbor.

[Fiberight CEO says Hampden waste processing facility ‘will work’]

EMR then hauls trash to Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock. A second backup facility, the Juniper Ridge landfill in Old Town, also takes small containers of trash from Swans Island, Lounder said.

EMR split the distribution of trash to the landfills this way because officials thought the small containers were more efficiently handled by Juniper Ridge, Lounder said.

EMR has as much as $1 million from its tip fee stabilization fund, a revenue-sharing account, to devote to problems created by the construction delay, Lounder said.

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