HAMPDEN – The trash-to-fuel plant that was supposed to open this week in town has been delayed by at least six months due to lawsuits and the weather, the developer says.
That means garbage from 115 Maine communities, all members of the Municipal Review Committee, will be sent to landfills in Old Town and Norridgewock until the doors open at the Fiberight plant.
“A competing facility initiated legal action on our state approved construction permits, which cost the schedule around a couple hundred days, and we did have difficulties in the winter,” said Greg Lounder, MRC executive director.
Those added to the typical delays associated with large, multi-million dollar projects created the delay, he said.
The member communities previously sent their trash to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington, which filed the legal action that was later dismissed.
Maryland-based Fiberight is building the massive 144,000-square foot facility on 90 acres off Coldbrook Road, near Interstate 95.
The plant will use technology to change organic materials, such as old banana peels, into biogas after the recyclable glass, metal and plastics are removed.
Biogas is similar to natural gas.
Fiberight CEO Craig Stuart-Paul has said that about 80 percent of the trash that arrives at the gates will be used or recycled.
Knowing a delay was imminent, the MRC board created a contingency plan to send trash to Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock and later added Juniper Ridge landfill in Old Town.
“The impact on the town as a customer of the new facility is that our waste is going to a different location for a period of time,” Hampden Town Manager Angus Jennings said Friday. “There are some additional transportation costs but the MRC has stepped up and created a fund to offset those costs.”
One of the last beams for the massive plant was put into place on Friday and the foundation is scheduled to be poured next week.
“We look forward to getting back on track and having a facility available for the communities as soon as soon as we possibly can,” Lounder said.