Thomaston questions shipping rifle range waste to Dragon

By Daniel Dunkle | Sep 11, 2013
Source: File photo A wall of polyester fiber solid waste waits stacked up at the former R.D. Outfitters rifle range in Warren. The waste may be used as an alternative fuel by Dragon Products in Thomaston.

Thomaston — Thomaston Town Manager Valmore Blastow Jr. wants more information about a plan to send polyester fiber solid waste from the former rifle range in Warren to Dragon Products in Thomaston.

He sent a letter Sept. 9 to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection requesting copies of all data related to the project.

DEP expects to receive bids Sept. 18 containing proposals to process 27,000 tons of waste from a former Warren rifle range so it can be used as an alternative fuel by Dragon Products, according to State Environmental Specialist Michael Parker. Parker said in previous comments that other options are still on the table, but that is the most likely solution to cleaning up the former R.D. Outfitters rifle range on Route 90 in Warren.

For more than a decade, the state has been working with the town of Warren trying to figure out how to clean up the site where the bales of polyester and polypropylene carpet-like fiber material have been stored. The original plan was to use the bales to build berms at the range.

In his letter, Blastow said Thomaston residents had expressed opposition before to a proposal to deposit 100,000 yards of the material in a quarry on the former prison site in Thomaston. He also said the town opposed that it was not being notified by DEP.

"Therefore again, the town finds itself as it was in 2001, an uninformed party in this matter and wishes to be informed," he wrote.

Blastow asks in the letter, since the material has to be ground down before it can be used as fuel, where and under what conditions will the polyester material be ground?

He also raises questions about traffic. "The truck trips necessary to relocate the materials as we simply estimate 6,000 trips if the material is in bulk or 1,200 if it is ground and deposited into truck trailers typical of sawdust haulers and the route being utilized to haul the material," he states. "The town further recognizes the materials, if ground in Thomaston, as they are polyester, would require an airtight grinding system and potential further permits for the operation."

He also asks for an environmental review for the burning of said material.

"The Board of Selectmen strongly supports Dragon Products' endeavors both in the past and the future based on its economic viability, employment and continued efforts of environmental concerns it manages through DEP licensing," Blastow states at one point in the letter.

So far, Dragon Plant Manager Ray Degrass could not be reached for comment.

Parker said previously Dragon has expressed interest in burning the fiber as an alternative fuel at its Thomaston cement plant. It currently uses petroleum coke as fuel, and it would not need any change to its emissions license.

Dragon also makes sense because it is relatively close to the Warren site, he said.

However, the material needs to be shredded to no more than six-inch strips and Dragon needs to install equipment to feed it into the plant, he said.

The project will be funded with settlement money from the lawsuit the former owners of the range filed against Camden National Bank. The legal battle started after the bank foreclosed on the former owners. The state and town of Warren were able claim some of the settlement money and set it aside for remediation of the site, Parker said.

Courier-Gazette Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at

Comments (2)
Posted by: Margaret McCrea | Sep 12, 2013 11:48

Kudos to our Town Manager for staying on top of this issue.  Safety data on burning polypropylene states:  "The short term exposure to polypropylene by all routes is considered to be practically non-harmful." Key words are short-term and practically (as in "almost"?) Should Thomaston residents be exposed to unnecessary threats to our air quality?

Posted by: RUTH ROWLING MAXFIELD | Sep 12, 2013 09:36

Wondering if this might be an ideal time for 'close-to-one-another' small towns to act for the best for all concerned.  Should the rifle range material catch fire where it is in Warren . . . would not Thomaston (and other neighboring towns) be effected?  It seems incredible to me that Dragon would even consider this proposition were it not safe and minimally disruptive to all. 

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