Warren rifle range cleanup a 'top priority' for DEP
Warren — The Maine Department of Environmental Protection voiced their commitment to progress on cleaning up the former R.D. Outfitters rifle range in 2013 during a Jan. 9 board of selectmen meeting.
DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho expressed frustration in regard to finding what she called a "good solution" for the polyester fiber waste located on the Route 90 site.
Aho said the DEP is working toward a solution as quickly as possible.
"I know that for everyone here in this community it's almost comical to say that, [but] this is one of our top-priority items," she said.
According to DEP Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management Director Melanie Loyzim — who is responsible for the site's assessment and analysis — $378,000 was set aside from the 2010 court judgment against the Steamship Navigation Company to deal with the more than 27,000 tons of polyester waste.
Loyzim emphasized the polyester fiber material's "great potential as a fuel" due to its high burning temperatures, but said that the DEP was having trouble locating facilities that possess proper equipment to process and dispose of the fiber.
Another aspect of disposal with which the DEP is grappling revolves around shredding the fiber waste into manageable pieces for controlled incineration. Loyzim said that costs for shredding the material off-site would cost $50 per ton, totaling more than $1.3 million, while shredding the polyester waste at its current location would amount to $100 per ton, or roughly $2.7 million.
Loyzim said the DEP is excited about the potential for partnership with Dragon Cement, a current frontrunner to aid in the cleanup initiative.
Dragon Cement Plant Manager Ray DeGrass reiterated that the company is unwilling to purchase chipping equipment, citing the "one-time use" nature of the polyester waste.
"It's going to come down to the economics," DeGrass said.
According to DeGrass, Dragon's parent company has directed a project consulting engineer to evaluate the costs for receiving and handling equipment for the polyester fiber, and should receive initial results by the end of February. DeGrass said the equipment, which could be ready to process material in June or July 2013, could see future use for processing more widely available alternative fuels, such as shingles and chipped tires.
A four-hour test burn created "no adverse effects in our continuous emissions monitor," DeGrass said, adding that Dragon is completing a solid waste fuel substitution license, which is expected to be submitted to the DEP within the next eight weeks.
Commissioner Aho said that she has been prioritizing investigation of options that would use the polyester fiber waste for energy. Aho described other methods, including burying the material at the site — which Loyzim said would cost roughly $750,000 — and disposing of it in the Mid Coast Solid Waste quarry in Rockport, as "not preferred."
"I said, 'Let's try to find a higher value for it than simply landfilling it,'" Aho said, "but at the same time, if that's the best way to get that material off this property, absolutely, we'll do that."
Select board member Michael York said that he would like to see the cleanup project move along "multiple tracks," adding that he thought the Mid Coast Solid Waste Corporation option was still a viable option.
According to Loyzim, the DEP is investigating what is allowable under the Mid Coast Solid Waste Corporation's existing license, and should have more definitive information within another month.
Aho said that the DEP will also consider requesting for proposals for alternate plans from the general public for the site's reuse.
Select board member Ed LaFlamme said he would like the town of Warren to be more informed of DEP meetings, and that the town and Warren need to resolve issues of ownership of the Route 90 property.
"We want to do whatever we can to move this thing along," LaFlamme said. "We want to make sure we're staying right on top of it and pushing this just as hard as we can possibly push it from our end."
Aho thanked the board, and said their help would be "very beneficial for us" in expediting the cleanup process.
In response to the requests for clear lines of communication with the DEP, the board of selectmen created a sub-committee consisting of Selectmen LaFlamme and York, who will be responsible for conveying information between the DEP and the town.
Courier Publications reporter Bane Okholm can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at email@example.com.