AUGUSTA, Maine — Over $400,000 in reimbursement checks have been sent to 11 municipalities for landfill closure and cleanup costs bringing the total to $863,000 since January 2013.
In 2012, Governor Paul R. LePage signed legislation so the Maine Department of Environmental Protection could pay back its bills to towns and cities who closed or remediated their landfills which were causing environmental and public health risks.
“Towns and cities did the right thing for the environment by cleaning or closing their landfills and my Administration did the right thing by getting its fiscal house in order,” said LePage in a press release. “These communities were promised reimbursement for their work but the funding ran out in 2000. Now other towns are seeing that by getting balancing our books, they too can clean up their landfill and receive a portion of that money back.”
Since the reimbursement program was reinstated six towns — Hartland, Eastport, Pembroke, Tremont, Oakland and Belgrade — have signed up for the program and received checks for their work to address landfills that were posing environmental risks.
Starting in the 1980s, DEP began working with communities to close or clean-up unlined landfills that threatened public and environmental health. The department provided technical assistance and a legislatively-mandated partial match and between 1989-2000, $79 million was given out to assist with the closure of 397 facilities.
Money to support the program ran out in 2000 but since then, DEP incurred millions more in obligations.
The reimbursements are now being funded by a $2 per ton fee on construction and demolition debris – the only waste stream formerly exempt from any handling fee. That fee, which DEP led to have enacted in the 125th Legislature, went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.
The department matches up to 90 percent of eligible expenses incurred by municipalities to mitigate risks posed by landfills.
“Governor LePage and I know that what’s right for the environment is right for the economy,” said DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho, in the press release. “I’m pleased that the program’s popularity has spread and that towns recognize the economic benefit of protecting the environment. If other communities would like to take part in this program, the department stands ready to offer assistance.”
The latest round of payments and amount currently owed is listed below.
|Municipality||Amount of August 2014 Payment||Amount owed after August 2014 payment|
|Presque Isle CDD||$21,738.40||$257,504.73|
|Presque Isle Municipal Landfill||$125,445.38||$1,485,977.62|