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Commissioner's Highlights - February 10, 2012
•Commissioner Pattie Aho determined there is a public benefit to an expansion of up to 9.35 million cubic yards at the Juniper Ridge Landfill because it meets the state’s long-term disposal capacity needs and is consistent with Maine’s waste management plan. That’s about half of the expansion size proposed by the State Planning Office and Casella Waste Systems. DEP’s decision was lauded as balanced because of a condition it contained that third-party audits be conducted every two years of construction and demolition debris (CDD) processors that anticipate transporting more than 10,000 tons of oversized bulky waste annually to Juniper Ridge. The audit condition was incorporated in response to public comments and a commitment from Commissioner Aho to ensure that as much material is being recycled and beneficially reused in Maine to minimize the amount landfilled in the state. Now that public benefit has been assessed, a technical application may now be submitted for the expansion.
•For the first time since the program began nearly a decade ago, EPA has said DEP is fully compliant when it comes to quality management. The high marks were based on an assessment back in November of DEP’s Quality Management System, which assures that the environmental data used to make decisions (license conditions, for example) are accurate and reliable, and that the department is continuously improving the quality of all its programs and operations.
•Staff from the Office of Communications & Education led by Director Samantha DePoy-Warren met with formerly homeless teens in a transitional living program in Lewiston-Auburn to talk to them about life and work skills related to environmental protections and healthy home safety including lead and carbon monoxide poisoning prevention.
•DEP staff from the Air and Land & Water bureaus met with Thermogen Industries/Cate Street Capital and their consultants for a pre-application meeting regarding plans to construct and operate a Torrified Wood Production Facility at the Great Northern Paper Company site in Millinocket. The facility would process approximately 220,000 green tons of forest residues through a series of material handling, rotary drying and pelletizing equipment to produce approximately 100,000 tons per year of finished torrified wood pellets. This would be the first commercial scale torrified wood production facility of its kind built in the world. The facility will turn low-grade forest residues into a charred pellet shaped fuel as a substitute for coal. The project schedule targets plant construction to be completed by next January with operations beginning in June of 2013.
•Jim Crowley in the Division of Water Quality Management received a commendation from Kerry Flavorings, located in Portland, and their consultant for being “very helpful and receptive to finding a solution to the regulatory process hurdle impeding the city’s issuance of a permit” that will allow the company to implement improvements that may allow them to expand. Jim proposed ideas that “enabled a viable resolution to the problem while still meeting requirements of the regulation,” the letter said, adding that Jim “was instrumental in keeping Kerry continues to succeed in Portland.”
•The commendations continue for DEP staff from the regulated community. The Navy lauded Naji Akladiss in DEP’s Superfund program for his assistance in their removal and remediation of a 7.25 mile pipeline and its connected corridor. “Without Mr. Akladiss’ diligence, hard work and support, the Navy would not have been able to complete the removal, remediation and Release of Easement actions ahead of schedule and under budget,” their thank-you letter to Commissioner Aho said, continuing “it was my pleasure working with your department.”
•Cleanup has begun at the former Plan-It Recycling facility on Route 25 in Gorham. This facility ceased operation in early 2011 when the Cumberland County Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Plan-It from accepting waste. Waste stockpiled at the closed facility includes asphalt roofing shingles, wood, inert fill materials, tires, and approximately 35,000 cubic yards of mixed construction and demolition debris. RJ Grondin, a local excavation and construction company, plans to purchase, clean up, and redevelop the property with guidance from the department's Voluntary Response Action Program. RJ Grondin began removal of waste at the site last week, and by Friday had removed than 5,000 tons of construction and demolition debris, 971 tons of asphalt shingles, and several hundred tires. Grondin crews are reclaiming useable wood and metal as they load trucks, and are sending asphalt shingles and tires to recycling facilities in Scarborough and Norridgewock. The remainder of the waste is being sent to Juniper Ridge Landfill for disposal. Waste removal is expected to take several weeks.
•The department approved the application of Ocean Renewable Power Corporation to construct five experimental tidal power generation units, submerged cables for power generated and data with connection to the power grid and associated facilities. This is the first time DEP has issued an approval for a tidal power demonstration project.
•The department conditionally approved amendments to the Town of Bridgton Shoreland Zoning Ordinance that they also helped the town to develop. The amendments significantly ease the minimum lot area requirement in the town’s highly developed and quintessential Main Street village area while affording adequate protection to a nearby river that eventually flows into Sebago Lake, a water supply for over 200,000 people. The approved amendments provide relief both to individual landowners and help a proposed development project by AVESTA Housing move forward and are expected to stimulate local economic development.