February 04, 2023

Landfill expansion called for in pact Old Town site capacity may triple

OLD TOWN – Expansion plans for the West Old Town Landfill could triple its capacity within three years, according to an operating services agreement signed last week by Casella Waste Systems Inc. and the state.

The state purchased the Georgia-Pacific Corp. landfill for $26 million with plans to turn it into a repository for tons of waste.

Funding for the purchase came from Casella, the company chosen by the state to operate the site, and the only bidder on the project.

The operating agreement was made final last Thursday and includes details as to how the deal will work.

In short, all responsibility for and liability from the landfill’s operation has been turned over to Casella, which already owns and operates several waste and recycling facilities in the state and throughout the Northeast.

Casella has made initial payment of $12.5 million to the state and the rest will follow, pending approval of the amendment application by the Department of Environmental Protection.

The application would make it possible for additional waste streams, other than mill waste, to be accepted at the landfill.

It also requests permission to increase the height allowance of the landfill to 390 feet from sea level, which would make it about as tall as the Pine Tree Landfill in Hampden, which Casella owns. The Old Town site, at capacity, would be 180 feet above the ground level at the site.

The DEP decision on the application is expected Feb. 17. In the meantime, Casella is working out deals to take waste from other facilities, mainly from southern Maine.

In the agreement, Casella has agreed to apply for a permit to expand the capacity of the landfill by 10 million cubic yards within three years of the approval of the initial agreement. Currently the landfill is licensed to hold a little more 3 million cubic yards.

The company will be required to conduct and pay for geologic and engineering studies, as well as any necessary consulting services, in order to obtain the expansion permit.

Together with the pending amendment application, the landfill expansion would provide sufficient capacity to dispose of at least 500,000 tons of waste per year over 20 years.

Another critical detail of the agreement requires Casella to construct a new sewer line to transport leachate from the landfill to the Old Town Water Treatment Plant within five years of the agreement’s effective date. Leachate currently is trucked to G-P’s water treatment facility.

Old Town City Manager John Lord said Wednesday that he didn’t know why such a stipulation was included in the plan.

“We have absolutely told the state and Casella that we are making no commitment to accept the leachate in our wastewater treatment plant because we don’t know what that would entail,” Lord said.

The city previously asked its engineers if the additional wastewater would cause a problem at the plant and were told that it could cause a number of difficulties, according to Lord.

Approval of the amendment application is vital to the landfill deal because without it, Casella has the right to terminate the entire agreement, according to the wording arrived at last week.

A public information session will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, at the Ramada Inn on the Odlin Road in Bangor after the DEP’s decision on the amendment application.

Representatives from the DEP, Maine Department of Transportation, the State Planning Office, Georgia-Pacific and Casella will be on hand to answer questions.

Correction: A story on Thursday’s front page about the West Old Town landfill expansion stated that Casella Waste Systems Inc. would be required to construct a new sewer line to transport leachate from the landfill to the Old Town water treatment plant within five years of the effective date of the agreement between Casella and the state. The article should have included that a new sewer line would be constructed only after necessary state and local licenses, permits and approvals were granted.

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