Boiler malfunction causes smoke to billow from FMC

By Juliette Laaka | Jul 23, 2014
Photo by: Juliette Laaka Smoke billows from FMC BioPolymer in Rockland July 22.

Rockland — Dark smoke was seen billowing from the stack at FMC BioPolymer at Lermond Cove the evening of July 22, a mishap that was controlled internally by the company, said Rockland Fire Chief Adam Miceli.

The chief said the smoke was caused by a boiler system malfunction. Generally, when smoke is black and thick, it is caused by incomplete combustion from something not burning efficiently, he said.

In a letter to City Councilors from Mayor Larry Pritchett, he said, according to FMC, the problem was a component in the system that regulates the air/fuel mixture in one boiler failed and was supplying too much fuel. This incorrect fuel mixture was burning poorly and producing a lot of dense black smoke.

The fire department was notified by FMC, but was not requested to come to the scene. Miceli said dispatch received about 50 calls and the department fielded about 25 calls from citizens reporting the smoke.

Miceli said FMC controlled the malfunction quickly. "They are very process-oriented there, so as soon as they could shut it down and clear it out, it was over," he said.

In a press release from FMC, the company said it notified the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and an investigation is ongoing as well as implementation of improvements.

The smoke is not considered by DEP to be dangerous, the release said.

FMC is contracting Knight Marine Service to clean affected vessels, but said the soot can be washed from objects with water, according to the release.

FMC provided the Community Advisory Panel with a summary report about what happened.

The plant on Lime Street is the largest carrageenan manufacturer in the world and the only plant of its kind in North America. FMC extracts carrageenan from seaweed for use in a number of food, personal care and pharmaceutical products. The company employs 140 people.

Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Sandra Schramm | Jul 25, 2014 23:03

First their insurance will likely pay and there is supposed to be a licensed boiler man in that room at all times. Many times this has happened, often missed by darkness.  Good paying jobs trumps environment. Then there is the issues they create for the Wastewater Treatment Plant that gets little press. As a taxpayer it gets old watching all the For Sale signs going up with few transfers in the paper with exception of homes in the rest of Knox County. Now this lovely new mil rate near the highest in the State. Why is there not a taxpayer revolt? Remember The Boston Tea Party anyone?

Posted by: Russell Garfield York | Jul 25, 2014 09:41


Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jul 23, 2014 13:50

Hi there J G

No need to guess . . .

FMC [aka old Marine Colloids] will pay zero, zilch, nada.

Remember that they are "the largest tax payer in town"

I guess Rockland is open for business . . . . Wait a sec, Rockland is only open for big biz. Just remember that City Hall told Rock City to connect their stack to the new Hoity-Toity hotel or else . . .


Posted by: Jeff Grinnell | Jul 23, 2014 11:05

SOOO....any guesses on how much FMC will be paying for boat detailing services this summer??

If you wish to comment, please login.