Smoke from wildfires will affect air quality in Maine on Monday and Tuesday

July 26, 2021

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director, (207) 287-5842, david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, July 26, 2021 - Particle pollution concentrations have begun to rise in the Western Mountains region several hours earlier than expected on Monday, July 26th according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP. This is due to smoke from fires in central & western Canada as well the western US moving into the region and reaching the ground. Levels in Maine are expected to continue rising through the day from Northwest to Southeast. We expect that particle pollution levels will remain high overnight and through much of Tuesday. Levels are expected to clear out Tuesday evening.

The standard for particle pollution is a 24-hour average and we believe that the average beginning midday on Monday through Tuesday afternoon and possibly into the early evening hours will reach the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range on the Air Quality Index for Maine. Northern areas are expected to clean out first on Tuesday while the remainder of the state is not likely to see cleaner air until evening.

Please check the web site as that will be updated frequently: https://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/index.html

At elevated particle pollution levels, children, healthy adults who exert themselves, and individuals suffering from a respiratory disease such as asthma, bronchitis or COPD can experience reduced lung function and irritation. When this happens, individuals may notice a shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation, and/or experience an uncomfortable sensation in their chest. Additionally, those with a heart disease should also follow these recommendations.

Some actions you can take to protect your health during periods of unhealthy air quality include:

  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.
  • If you are indoors, close windows and circulate indoor air with a fan or air conditioner.
  • The Maine CDC Asthma Prevention and Control Program has asthma information available at their web site: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/mat/
  • For more information on asthma control visit EPA's Web site epa.gov/asthma to find information about asthma triggers and lessons on asthma management.

In addition to those in a sensitive group, sports coaches, elder care workers, nurses and others who are responsible for the welfare of people impacted by poor air quality are urged to use one of the listed tools to follow the Air Quality Forecast:

For more information call the contacts listed above or go to DEPs air quality web site http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/

Ground-level ozone expected to climb in parts of Maine on Thursday

August 11, 2021

Contact: David Madore, Deputy Commissioner, (207) 287-5842, david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, August 11, 2021 - Ground-level ozone concentrations will be climbing in Maine on Thursday and are expected to reach unhealthy levels for the Southwest Coast and the high elevations of Acadia NP according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Ozone levels in southern New England began ramping up on Wednesday with transport of ozone and its precursors toward Maine later today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, some smoke is expected to combine with regional particle pollution to push particle pollution to moderate levels statewide tomorrow.

At elevated ozone levels, children, healthy adults who exert themselves, and individuals suffering from a respiratory disease such as asthma, bronchitis or COPD can experience reduced lung function and irritation. When this happens, individuals may notice a shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation, and/or experience an uncomfortable sensation in their chest.

Some actions you can take to protect your health during periods of unhealthy air quality include:

  • Adjusting your schedule to avoid strenuous outdoor activity during the afternoon.
  • Please consult the Maine CDC website for information on the health impacts of extreme heat and appropriate actions to take (http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/heat/).
  • The Maine CDC Asthma Prevention and Control Program has asthma information available at their web site: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/mat
  • For more information on asthma control visit EPA's Web site epa.gov/asthma to find information about asthma triggers and lessons on asthma management.

In addition to those in a sensitive group, sports coaches, elder care workers, nurses and others who are responsible for the welfare of people impacted by poor air quality are urged to use one of the listed tools to follow the Air Quality Forecast:

For more information call the contacts listed above or go to DEPs air quality web site http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/

DEP reports drought and irrigation related impacts to surface waters in parts of Maine

August 18, 2021

Contact: David Madore, Deputy Commissioner, (207) 287-5842, david.madore@maine.gov or Bill Sheehan, Director, DEP Northern Maine Regional Office, (207) 554-0783 bill.j.sheehan@maine.gov or Rob Mohlar, Water Quality Engineer, (Western Maine Inquiries) (207) 592-1439 robert.c.mohlar@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, August 18, 2021 - A significant portion of Aroostook County and Western Maine is experiencing increasingly dry conditions with moderate drought conditions in the north and western portions of the county, and severe drought conditions in portions of Western Maine. As a result, water levels in many streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, and wetlands are at low levels. Stream and river flows are particularly low with flows well below the summer season August median level since early July. Unfortunately, low precipitation amounts and warmer temperatures that are anticipated to become more frequent in summer months due to climate change create favorable conditions for droughts.

Stream and river water levels below the August median level can not legally be used as a water source for irrigation without site specific DEP approval. Irrigation withdrawal during the current drought conditions will further lower stream and river levels and may result in dewatering of segments and fish kills that are a violation of law. Withdrawals from lakes, ponds, or other wetlands may similarly result in worsening environmental impacts. Conservation or other best practices that reduce the amount of water withdrawal are encouraged.

Additional Resources:

Joint Response to Oil Spill at Willard Beach, South Portland, ME

August 25, 2021

Contact: David Madore, Deputy Commissioner, (207) 287-5842, david.madore@maine.gov

SOUTH PORTLAND, August 25, 2021 - The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the City of South Portland are all involved in the joint response to an oil spill that reached the City's storm water drainage system and subsequently discharged into the water at Willard Beach yesterday afternoon. Crews initially responded last night and returned this morning to continue proper cleanup and remediation efforts.

A responsible party has been identified and no additional discharge has occurred since last night, nor is further discharge from the source anticipated. Maine DEP is the lead agency overseeing response operations with the USCG and City of South Portland representatives supporting. Clean Harbors Environmental Services has been contracted and has been on scene actively conducting cleanup operations, which includes collecting any contaminated seaweed and working with the Citys Water Resources Protection Department to collect any remaining oily waste in the storm water drainage system in efforts to prevent any further discharge into the water at Willard Beach. The length of the cleanup effort is currently unknown.

Willard Beach will remain closed to the public for the remainder of today. Reopening will be assessed daily as cleanup efforts continue and results from soil/sand testing are analyzed. Neighbors in the vicinity may notice some petroleum related odors as a result of this spill; however, authorities indicate there is no danger to public health.

"This incident highlights the strong partnerships we have at the federal, state, and local level here in South Portland. This is a team effort, and we certainly appreciate the cooperation of all involved agencies. The safety of the public is our primary concern." Captain Amy Florentino, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander Sector Northern New England.

Clean-up efforts in response to oil spill at Willard Beach in South Portland continue

August 26, 2021

Contact: David Madore, Deputy Commissioner, (207) 287-5842, david.madore@maine.gov

South Portland, August 26, 2021 - The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the City of South Portland in conjunction with Clean Harbors Environmental Services continued comprehensive cleanup efforts today in response to Tuesday's oil spill at Willard Beach.

A temporary containment dam was built to collect any residual oily waste while cleanup efforts were conducted. Approximately 2000 pounds of oily seaweed, other debris, and deployed sorbent materials were collected from the beach and other impacted sites. All manhole cover/access points encompassing the entire storm water drainage route from the incident/source to the Willard Beach discharge pipe were opened, pumped out using two specially equipped vac-trucks, and back flushed. In addition to the storm drain piping itself, the exposed storm water catch basin located behind the Willard Beach parking lot was power washed and pumped out. Cleanup was also conducted at the responsible partys property in South Portland to include inspecting and consolidating petroleum waste drums, pumping petroleum waste tanks, and applying additional sorbents. Lastly, six beach core samples were taken from Willard Beach and are undergoing lab analysis. Maine DEP requested expedited testing and hopes to receive the results sometime tomorrow. Once the results are reviewed, authorities will make decisions regarding the reopening of the beach. All remaining cleanup efforts will be completed this afternoon. The beach will remain closed today and tomorrow.

Both the USCG and Maine DEP have been in direct contact with the responsible party and continue to investigate this incident. Any necessary enforcement action will be taken in accordance with agency policies and procedures.

DEP accepting proposals for $4M in stream crossing replacement and upgrade grants

August 27, 2021

Contact: David Madore, Deputy Commissioner, (207) 287-5842, david.madore@maine.gov or John Maclaine, Non-Point Source Training Coordinator john.maclaine@maine.gov

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is announcing $4 million dollars in available grant funding to be awarded in a single round through a Request for Applications (RFA). These bond funds support the DEP's competitive grant program that matches local funding to assist municipalities with culvert upgrades and replacements at stream crossings. Projects are scored on the degree to which they improve fish and wildlife habitat (including reconnecting streams in priority habitats and incorporating Stream Smart design elements), increase public safety and reduce flooding; and represent a cost-effective investment. Maximum award of $125,000 per project. Detailed scoring guidance and design resources are available on the program's website: https://www.maine.gov/dep/land/grants/stream-crossing-upgrade.html

The grant Request for Applications is available starting August 30, 2021, with proposals due by November 19, 2021.

DEP finds no permit violations associated with recent mortalities at Cooke Aquaculture pens

September 27, 2021

Cooke Aquaculture discovered high mortalities of fish on August 16, 2021 at Black Island and Black Island South net pen sites. Although Cooke is not required to report mortalities to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), on Friday August 27, 2021, they notified DEP Compliance staff that Cooke had removed and disposed of carcasses and cleaned the net pens at each site. Cooke reported to DEP the mortalities in August for Black Island were 28,212 and Black Island South were 87,607.
DEP staff inspected the Black Island and Black Island South net pen sites on August 31, 2021. Visibility in the water was limited to about 5 to 8 feet and the net pens had been cleaned within the last week. DEP staff did not find evidence of excessive net pen fouling.

Cooke Aquaculture provided to DEP daily dissolved oxygen (DO) readings collected in the 30-meter mixing zone outside the net pens at Black Island and Black Island South net pen sites for the period of July 1, 2021 - August 31, 2021. The permit limit for DO within the mixing zone is 6.0 mg/L. Cooke's lowest measure of DO in the mixing zone for the period submitted was on August 10, with a reading of 6.5 mg/L at both sites. On August 13, 2021 they reported DO readings of 6.9 mg/L and the DO increased over the weekend to 9.0 and 8.4 mg/L. On August 16, when the mortalities were reportedly discovered, Cooke measured mixing zone DO at both sites of 8.1mg/L. Cooke is not required by the DEP permit to track or report DO within the net pen sites. However, they were able to provide data for August 1st to 25th for a single pen at Black Island South. The lowest reported DO levels in the single pen on August 15 and 16 were 4.9 mg/L.

Additionally, all pen densities reported to the Department during June, July, and August were within permit limits.

On September 23, 2021, DEP Enforcement and Compliance staff met to review the permit requirements and the data submitted by Cooke to the Department. As a result of that examination, DEP did not identify any permit violations or violations of the Clean Water Act in relation to the reported fish kill. The Department acknowledges Cooke Aquacultures cooperation in this matter, and having found no infractions, has therefore closed the investigation into this matter.

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner david.madore@maine.gov

Maine DEP has awarded a new round of municipal stream crossing grants

April 4, 2022

Contact: David Madore, Deputy Commissioner, (207) 287-5842, david.madore@maine.gov

Maine DEP's Municipal Stream Crossing Grant Program provides grants that match local funding for the upgrade of culverts at stream crossings on municipal roads. Projects funded through this program will benefit public infrastructure and safety by replacing failing culverts that are at risk of complete washout or collapse; reduce flooding and increase resiliency with the installation or larger, higher capacity and longer-lived crossings, benefit fish and wildlife by opening and reconnecting stream habitat fragmented by undersized and impassable culverts, and represent a cost-effective and efficient investment based on planning, detail, and local matching funds committed to the project.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) received 44 applications to review with a total over $5.3 million dollars in funding requests. Thirty-four stream crossing projects funded this round will result in new or improved fish passage to nearly 130 miles of streams statewide, and result in less flooding and transportation resilience.

Maine DEP is pleased to announce funds for the following 34 projects across the State:

Alna, Egypt Road, $125,000.00

Brownfield, Phen Road, $125,000.00

Buckfield, Bear Pond Road, $120,000.00

Burnham, Pond Rd, $125,000.00

Chapman, West Chapman Road, $125,000.00

Clinton, True Road, $125,000.00

Cornville, Molunkus Road, $125,000.00

Deer Isle, Sunshine Road, $125,000.00

Dixmont, South Road, $125,000.00

Ellsworth, Red Bridge Road, $125,000.00

Enfield, Mohawk Rd North, $125,000.00

Enfield Mohawk Rd South, $125,000.00

Garland, Oliver Hill Road, $125,000.00

Garland, Campbell Road, $125,000.00

Gorham, Westcott Road, $125,000.00

Hartland, Beans Corner Road II, $125,000.00

Lewiston, Old Webster Road, $125,000.00

Milo, Medford Road, $125,000.00

Norridgewock, Winding Hill Road, $125,000.00

North Yarmouth, Sweetser Road, $125,000.00

Phillips, East Madrid Road, $125,000.00

Pittston, Pinkham Road, $125,000.00

Pittston, Blodgett Road, $125,000.00

Richmond, Beedle Road (West), $125,000.00

Richmond, Beedle Road (East), $125,000.00

Rockport, Robinson Drive, $125,000.00

Rockport, West Street Extension, $125,000.00

Rumford, Prospect Avenue, $125,000.00

Skowhegan, Steward Hill Road, $125,000.00

Standish, Moody Road, $125,000.00

Starks, Locke Hill Road, $125,000.00

Temple, Mitchell Brook Road, $125,000.00

Tremont, Dix Point Road, $42,500.00

York, Parsons Road, $125,000.00

For more information including examples of successful applications and the master score sheet for this round please visit Maine DEP's website

MNRCP awards record $5.7 million for wetland restoration and conservation in Maine

December 7, 2021

Contact: David Madore, Maine Department of Environmental Protection (207) 287-5842, david.madore@maine.gov; Jeremy Cluchey, The Nature Conservancy in Maine (207) 607-4843, Jeremy.cluchey@tnc.org; Tim Dugan, New England District Corps of Engineers, (978) 318-8264, timothy.j.dugan@usace.army.mil

The Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program (MNRCP) awarded over $5.7 million for 24 projects across Maine that will restore, enhance, or protect wetlands and other important natural resources, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (Maine DEP) announced today. The total award amount and number of projects are the most that MNRCP has ever awarded in a single year. Projects awarded funding include eelgrass restoration in Brunswick and Harpswell; salt marsh enhancement projects in Hancock, Georgetown, and Wells; a dam removal project in Freeport; a culvert upgrade in Hancock County; and preservation of high-value wetlands at sites ranging from 16 acres to over 900 acres in 22 towns in 10 different Maine counties. In total, $5,713,069 was awarded to restore or enhance almost 400 acres of wetlands and help conserve approximately 4,000 acres of wetlands and associated upland buffer.

MNRCP is part of the state's In Lieu Fee (ILF) Compensation Program, whereby developers who are seeking permits for environmental impacts can pay a fee to the state to compensate for those impacts. The fees are collected by the Maine DEP and are transferred to a dedicated fund where they are pooled together with fees from other projects. MNRCP then has an annual funding cycle where awards are made for wetland restoration, enhancement, or preservation projects that serve as compensation for the development impacts. Public agencies, municipalities, tribes, and non-profit conservation organizations are all eligible to apply for funding.

Not only does the program provide an efficient and consistent alternative to developers for compensation for natural resource impacts, MNRCP is also one of the most important funding sources for wetland restoration and conservation projects in the state. Since it began in 2008, the program has awarded over $25 million for more than 150 restoration and conservation projects.

"This funding round included projects that not only meet Maines mitigation requirements, but also meet state-wide goals for addressing marsh migration and climate resiliency," said Commissioner Melanie Loyzim of the Maine DEP. The awards include one project that is a priority site for marsh migration in Brunswick, as well as three separate projects, in Wells, Georgetown, and Hancock, that will enhance salt marshes to make them more resilient to sea level rise. We look forward to more projects like these in the future.

This award will make it possible for us to carry out an exciting collaborative project on the Swett Marsh tidal marsh in Georgetown, noted Ruth Indrick, Project Manager with the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT), one of this years project awardees. With it, we will be able to upgrade a critically undersized culvert and remediate historical agricultural modifications that are causing ponding and subsidence on 126 acres of conserved tidal marsh. When the work is completed, the town road will be safer and more stable, and the marsh will be healthier and more resilient."

MNRCPs recognition of the ecological importance of mitigating eelgrass impacts will help us replace traditional block-and-chain moorings with specially-designed conservation moorings, said Daniel Devereaux, Coastal Resources Manager for the Town of Brunswick, another of this years awardees. This initiative will promote a more vibrant and sustainable eelgrass bed, which supports biological diversity that is priceless to coastal shellfish communities like Brunswick. This support will help ensure we can continue to rely on our local bays to provide income to hundreds of our residents and high-quality food to the rest of the state and country.

MNRCP is widely considered to be a successful ILF program, both in New England and the country, and has become a valuable asset to the conservation community in Maine as well as developers seeking state and federal permits. The success of MNRCP relies on coordination between Maine DEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who oversee natural resource permitting in the state, and The Nature Conservancy of Maine, which administers MNRCP on behalf of Maine DEP.

The MNRCP is one of the most personally rewarding elements of my long career with the Corps, said Jay Clement of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maine Project Office. Thirteen review cycles now complete; tens of thousands of acres of Maines wetlands, streams, vernal pools and other aquatic resources and their upland buffers restored, enhanced, and preserved; and immeasurable public interest benefits protected in perpetuity. At the same time, the program offers great efficiencies to state and federal permit programs in the face of heavy workloads and staffing challenges, which in turn benefits the public.

In 2022, MNRCP will be seeking more wetland restoration and enhancement projects, as these projects better address state and federal mitigation policy and address state conservation planning goals. MNRCP will also continue to look for projects that restore or protect coastal ecosystems, including salt marshes, eelgrass beds, and other intertidal and subtidal habitats.

For more information about MNRCP, visit http://mnrcp.org/

DEP seeks grant proposals for first round of 2022 waste diversion projects

January 18, 2022

Contact: David Madore, Deputy Commissioner david.madore@maine.gov or Mark King, Organics Management Specialist mark.a.king@maine.gov

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is soliciting grant proposals to support the development, implementation or improvement of programs, initiatives or activities designed to increase the diversion of solid waste from disposal. Last year, the DEP awarded a total of $117,876.50 to fund 7 waste diversion projects across Maine. These grants are supporting efforts to: increase efficiencies, reduce plastic waste, and develop organics management infrastructure at three Maine municipalities; expand a regional seafood compost operation in Hancock County; help a Maine Brewery develop a robust recycling program that includes accepting materials from area residents, increase recycling infrastructure in an underserved Maine community and finally, help a small southwestern Maine community garden develop a backyard compost education program.

A copy of the RFP, as well as the Question & Answer Summary and all amendments related to this RFP, can be obtained at the following website: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/bbm/procurementservices/vendors/grants.

All interested municipalities, regional associations and Maine businesses are encouraged to apply. The DEP will provide awards for accepted proposals ranging from $1,000 - $40,000 ($125,000 total) as a result of this RFP process and prefers proposals that:

-take advantage of regional economies of scale,

-specify reuse and repair infrastructure and program development,

-increase organics management and recycling infrastructure in underserved areas of the state,

-promote waste reduction through reuse, repair and sharing economy initiatives,

-address a statewide need, and/or

-expand the types of materials managed through composting and recycling.

In addition, in accordance with 38 MRSA 2201-B. Maine Solid Waste Diversion Grant Program, the Department shall give highest priority in the awarding of funds under this section to programs, projects, initiatives, or activities proposed by municipal or regional association applicants.

Application details on the RFP # 202111169 - "Waste Diversion Grants Program" are available on-line at Request for Proposals, Maine DEP. Questions on the RFP must be submitted by January 28, 2022 and proposals must be submitted electronically by 4:00 p.m. February 11, 2022.

Maine DEP celebrates Air Quality Awareness Week May 2 - 6, 2022

April 29, 2022

Maine DEP celebrates Air Quality Awareness Week May 2 - 6, 2022

DEP to host Food Scrap Diversion Workshops

May 6, 2022

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is hosting a series of Food Scrap Diversion Workshops in collaboration with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry and the University of Maine Mitchell Center for Sustainable Solutions. This is a chance to learn about the most up-to-date information on local food waste recycling initiatives. These half-day workshops will introduce the concept of local consolidated food scrap collection and management as an alternative to disposal in our landfills. Discussions will focus on developing tools to help communities promote "higher and better uses" for collected organics along with providing a pathway for successful initiation of food scrap recovery programs. Strategies learned will allow communities to reduce overall disposal costs, decrease reliance on disposal in landfills, improve community health and enhance local soil health and vitality. The workshops are open to the public and are free. The sessions start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 1:30 p.m. Please contact the person named below to register.

Upcoming Workshops: Kennebunk - May 25, 2022

West Kennebunk Fire Station located on Thompson Road

Contact: Bryan Laverriere, Public Works Director (Kennebunk)

blaverriere@kennebunkmaine.us, (207) 604-1308

Cumberland May 27, 2022

Cumberland Town Hall, 290 Tuttle Road, Cumberland Center

Contact: William Shane, Town Manager (Cumberland)

wshane@cumberlandmaine.com, (207) 829-4264

Caribou June 3, 2022

Northern Maine Development Corporation, 11 West Presque Isle Road, Caribou

Contact: Jay Kamm, Senior Planner

jkamm@nmdc.org, (207) 493-5757

Auburn June 21, 2022

Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, 125 Manley Road, Auburn

Contact: Yvette Meunier, Environmental and Community Planner

ymeunier@avcog.org, (207) 783-9186 Ext. 225

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner david.madore@maine.gov or

Mark King, Organics Management Specialist mark.a.king@maine.gov

NECEC appeals to be considered by the Board of Environmental Protection

May 11, 2022

On May 17 and 18, 2022, the Board of Environmental Protection will meet at the University of Maine in Farmington to consider appeals of the Site Location of Development and Natural Resources Protection Act permits issued to Central Maine Power Company and NECEC Transmission LLC to construct the New England Clean Energy Connect project. The Board will consider the appeals of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, and a consolidated group of Maine residents, small businesses and towns referred to as the West Forks Group.

The record of information for the Board's consideration is now closed. The record includes all public comments submitted to the Department during the processing of the license applications, hearing testimony from six days of evidentiary hearings in 2019, and all other records admitted as evidence through the sixteen procedural orders issued by the hearing presiding officer.

The meetings on May 17 and 18 are not public hearings. The meetings are being conducted in accordance with the Departments rules to allow the licensees, the appellants, and persons who were intervenors in the licensing hearing to make oral argument before the Board. No additional evidence or public comment will be accepted at the meeting.

At the May 17-18 meetings, the Board is expected to vote on whether to hold a hearing on the appeals. If the Board votes not to hold a hearing on the appeals, it will proceed on May 18th with deliberations for a possible vote and decision on the merits of the consolidated appeals. If the Board votes to hold a hearing, that hearing would be scheduled for the earliest possible date, and the Board would not deliberate the merits of the consolidated appeals until that date.

Excerpts from the record included in the board packet for the Boards consideration of the NECEC appeals are available at https://www.maine.gov/dep/bep/featured.html.

The public can watch the proceedings live by going to https://maine.zoom.us/j/87461906916 for the video feed. This information will also be included in the agenda for the Board meeting, which will be available at https://www.maine.gov/dep/bep/index.html.

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner, DEP david.madore@maine.gov or

William F. Hinkel, Executive Analyst, BEP bill.hinkel@maine.gov

NECEC appeals to the Board of Environmental Protection have been postponed due to Covid-19 illnesses

May 16, 2022

On May 17 and 18, 2022, the Board of Environmental Protection was scheduled to meet at the University of Maine in Farmington to consider appeals of the Site Location of Development and Natural Resources Protection Act permits issued to Central Maine Power Company and NECEC Transmission LLC to construct the New England Clean Energy Connect project. The Board was scheduled to consider the appeals of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, and a consolidated group of Maine residents, small businesses and towns referred to as the West Forks Group.

Due to circumstances regarding Covid-19 related illnesses that are beyond the Board's control, the Boards May 17-18, 2022 meeting in Farmington is being postponed. In consideration of public health information regarding Covid-19 and the availability of Board members, staff and the parties, the Board Chair will determine the soonest date to reschedule the NECEC appeal meeting, possibly in late June.

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner, DEP david.madore@maine.gov or

William F. Hinkel, Executive Analyst, BEP bill.hinkel@maine.gov

DEP has awarded the first round of funds for recycling and organics management projects in 2022

May 23, 2022

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection recently announced the first (spring) round of 2022 Waste Diversion Grant award recipients for recycling and organics management projects statewide. These projects are targeted to divert waste from disposal by expanding composting and recycling opportunities across Maine. DEP received 10 proposals requesting a total of $235,355.00 and will award $182,227.36 to fund 6 of these projects. Maine DEP is providing these grants to help businesses, institutions and municipalities address solid waste management challenges.

Reducing the volume of materials, we consume by reusing items, and recycling products and packaging can significantly reduce our environmental impacts and help to enhance sustainability, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and cut our overall costs.

Maine DEP is pleased to award funds for the following projects across the state:

City of South Portland - $27,318.00

Develop an Electric Tool Lending Library

City will be using grant monies to establish an "Electric Tool Lending Library" to provide residents with free access to land care equipment, while also providing residents with the opportunity to try equipment before they purchase their own.

Chickadee Compost, LLC, Sargentville $39,894.00

Increase Food Scrap Collection Efficiencies

Chickadee Compost will use their grant funding to improve collection efficiency and overall operations at their current food scrap composting operation by adding EZ Screen 600, purchase 50 32-gallon toters, purchase 100 4-gallon compost buckets, and conduct onsite improvements. This will greatly enhance the volume of organics currently collected and result in bigger savings for the Blue Hill Peninsula residents.

ScrapDogs Community Compost, LLC$40,000

Develop a New Satellite Compost Operation

Building on previous successes, ScrapDogs plans to use grant funds to develop a new satellite compost operation in Washington to augment the existing Bo'lait Farm site so that the company may expand their curbside and commercial food collection service to Augusta, Hallowell and Gardiner areas.

Northern Aroostook Solid waste Association (NASWA), Eagle Lake $25,000

Enhance Recycling Infrastructure

NASWA proposes to use grant funds to make significant improvements to the existing recycling infrastructure to increase regional waste diversion efforts

MaineHealth, Portland $31,577.36

Food Scrap Composting and Recycling Upgrades

Waste Diversion Grant funds will enable Maine Medical Center to scale-up a small, staff-initiated recycling and composting program that began at three separate MaineHealth locations to include all MaineHealth facilities located in the Greater Portland area and at Southern Maine Health Care.

Garbage to GardenCity of Sanford, Sanford $29,010.00

Develop a City-Wide Food Scrap Collection Service

The City of Sanford will work in Principal Partnership with Garbage to Garden (based in Portland) to increase organics diversion through development of a comprehensive curbside collection program.

The Department will be announce the next round of Waste Diversion Grants in August.

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner david.madore@maine.gov

Board of Environmental Protection has rescheduled NECEC appeals for deliberation

May 23, 2022

The Board of Environmental Protection has rescheduled a meeting originally set for May 17-18, 2002, to consider appeals of the Site Location of Development and Natural Resources Protection Act permits issued to Central Maine Power Company and NECEC Transmission LLC to construct the New England Clean Energy Connect project. The next dates available for all appeal participants is July 20-21, 2022. The Board will meet at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta on July 20 and 21, 2022, to consider the appeals of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, and a consolidated group of Maine residents, small businesses and towns referred to as the West Forks Group.

The record of information for the Board's consideration is closed. The record includes all public comments submitted to the Department during the processing of the license applications between 2017 and 2019, hearing testimony from six days of evidentiary hearings in 2019, and all other records admitted as evidence through the sixteen procedural orders issued by the hearing presiding officer.

The meetings on July 20 and 21, 2022, are not public hearings. The meetings are being conducted in accordance with the Departments rules to allow the licensees, the appellants, and persons who were intervenors in the licensing hearing to make oral argument before the Board. No additional evidence or public comment will be accepted at the meeting.

At the July 20-21, 2022 meetings, the Board is expected to vote on whether to hold a hearing on the appeals. If the Board votes not to hold a hearing on the appeals, it will proceed on July 21st with deliberations for a possible vote and decision on the merits of the consolidated appeals. If the Board votes to hold a hearing, that hearing would be scheduled for the earliest possible date, and the Board would not deliberate the merits of the consolidated appeals until that date.

Excerpts from the record included in the board packet for the Boards consideration of the NECEC appeals are available at https://www.maine.gov/dep/bep/featured.html.

The public may attend the meeting in person or watch the proceedings live by going to https://mainestate.zoom.us/j/82071377008 for the video feed. This and other information will be included in the agenda for the Board meeting, which will be available at https://www.maine.gov/dep/bep/index.html.

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner, DEP

david.madore@maine.gov

or

William F. Hinkel, Executive Analyst, BEP

bill.hinkel@maine.gov

The Maine DEP issues an Air Quality Alert for portions of Maine on Sunday, June 26, 2022

June 25, 2022

Contact: Contact: David Madore, Deputy Commissioner, david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, June 25, 2022 - Ground-level ozone concentrations will be climbing in Maine on Sunday and are expected to reach unhealthy levels according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). On Saturday Ozone levels are expected to be unhealthy in Southern New England. Ozone and its precursors would then be transported to Maine on Sunday. The Unhealthy levels are expected along the coast from Kittery through Acadia NP with Moderate levels of ozone for the Downeast Coastal region and the Western Interior & Eastern Interior regions. In addition, Particle pollution levels are expected to be in the low end of the Moderate range on the Air Quality Index for much of the state as well.

At elevated ozone levels, children, healthy adults who exert themselves, and individuals suffering from a respiratory disease such as asthma, bronchitis or COPD can experience reduced lung function and irritation. When this happens, individuals may notice a shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation, and/or experience an uncomfortable sensation in their chest.

Some actions you can take to protect your health during periods of unhealthy air quality include:

o Adjusting your schedule to avoid strenuous outdoor activity during the afternoon.

o While temperatures are not expected to reach the Heat Advisory level, temperatures will be much warmer than recent days. If you have concerns, please consult the Maine CDC website for information on the health impacts of extreme heat and appropriate actions to take (http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/heat/).

o The Maine CDC Asthma Prevention and Control Program has asthma information available at their web site: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/mat/

o For more information on asthma control visit EPA's Web site epa.gov/asthma to find information about asthma triggers and lessons on asthma management.

In addition to those in a sensitive group, sports coaches, elder care workers, nurses and others who are responsible for the welfare of people impacted by poor air quality are urged to use one of the listed tools to follow the Air Quality Forecast:

Air Quality Forecast page: http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/aqforecast/ which has links to:

o EnviroFlash, EPA's email and text alert system, http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/enviroflash.html

o Twitter, for sign up information go to: http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/twitter.html

o EPAs mobile app is available at: https://www.airnow.gov/airnow-mobile-app/

DEP's toll free air quality hotline is 1-800-223-1196

For more information call the contacts listed above or go to DEPs air quality web site http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/aqforecast/

Update to the fire and subsequent sinking of the Motor Vessel TOO ELUSIVE

June 22, 2022

On Saturday afternoon, June 18th, the 72-foot M/V TOO ELUSIVE caught fire in the vicinity of Wentworth By the Sea Marine in Little Harbor - Portsmouth, New Hampshire. All three persons onboard safely abandoned ship and were quickly rescued. However, despite the tremendous marine firefighting efforts of numerous local agencies, the vessel burned to the waterline and sank early Saturday evening in approximately 80 feet of water 1 mile southeast of the 2KR buoy at the entrance of the Piscataqua River. The wreck site was marked and is located outside of the main shipping channel.

The vessel owner was issued a Notice of Federal Interest by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the owner has contracted a local commercial salvage company to survey the wreck site and develop a salvage plan to ensure any further environmental and/or navigation impacts are properly mitigated.

Crews from the USCG, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES), and Maine Department of Environmental Protection (ME DEP) continued to monitor the surrounding area/shoreline and wreck site throughout the weekend looking for signs of pollution. A sheen of diesel fuel was observed in the area throughout the weekend. As of Tuesday morning, June 21st, crews are aware of no shoreline impacts. However, based on side scan sonar images taken Tuesday morning, crews assess the wreck is still leaking an unknown quantity of diesel fuel as light sheening and the smell of diesel remains in the area. Much of this sheen is expected to continue to dissipate naturally.

The USCG, NH DES, and ME DEP will continue to monitor the wreck site and oversee salvage operations that are being planned at this time.

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner, ME DEP david.madore@maine.gov or

Ryan A. Koroknay, LCDR, USCG SEC N NEW ENG (USA) ryan.a.koroknay@uscg.mil or

James P. Martin, Public Information Officer, NH DES james.p.martin@des.nh.gov

The motor vessel TOO ELUSIVE's recent sinking is still being monitored by the Maine DEP, USCG, and New Hampshire DES

June 24, 2022

On Saturday afternoon, June 18th, the 72-foot M/V TOO ELUSIVE caught fire in the vicinity of Wentworth By the Sea Marina in Little Harbor - Portsmouth, New Hampshire. All three persons onboard safely abandoned ship and were quickly rescued. However, despite the tremendous marine firefighting efforts of numerous local agencies, the vessel burned to the waterline and sank early Saturday evening in approximately 80 feet of water 1 mile southeast of the 2KR buoy at the entrance of the Piscataqua River. The wreck site was marked and is located outside of the main shipping channel.

On Sunday, June 19th the vessel owner was issued a Notice of Federal Interest by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and the vessel owner has since contracted a local commercial salvage company to survey the wreck site and develop a salvage plan to raise the remains of the vessel and ensure any further environmental and/or navigation impacts are properly mitigated.

Monday, June 20th the salvage company contracted a Marine Engineering and Industrial Services company to conduct a hydrographic and structural survey of the vessel to determine how it was situated in the water. This was an important step to determine the risks of the salvage and what could be done with the vessel moving forward. The marine salvage contractor also continued its attempts to schedule professional divers that were qualified to do the technical work necessary for the salvage.

On Tuesday, June 21st the hydrographic and survey team arrived on scene to conduct the underwater survey work and found the remains of the vessel to be standing on its stern/transom with the bow sticking straight up. This was deemed a dangerous salvage operation due to the positioning of the wreck and associated stability concerns coupled with the depths and currents in which the divers must operate. Diesel fuel was also found to be slowing leaking and creating a light/variable sheen that was determined to be non-recoverable and was evaporating and dissipating naturally at sea.

On Wednesday and Thursday, June 22nd 23rd the salvage company continued to develop/refine its plan to raise the vessel and contracted professional divers from out of state to assist in the salvage effort. Local Coast Guard vessels continued to monitor the last known position of the vessel and due to the prevailing sea conditions, no sheen was immediately apparent.

On Friday, June 24th the professional dive team arrived on scene and used a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) take high resolution digital images the wreck to determine connection points and assess the location of the fuel tanks. In the calm morning sea state, the Coast Guard and Kittery Harbormaster observed a light diesel fuel sheen in the vicinity of the wreck site that was again determined to be non-recoverable and was evaporating/ dissipating naturally at sea. No shoreline impacts have been reported at this time. A complete salvage plan submitted by the contractor is expected late Friday afternoon and will detail a proposal of how the vessel will be safely raised to mitigate continued environmental concerns.

Crews from the USCG, NH DES, and ME DEP continue to closely monitor the situation and have consulted with the local NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator who provided the following diesel fuel facts to keep in mind during a situation like this.

  • When spilled in open water and unconfined, most diesel will evaporate or naturally disperse with a few days. Under these conditions, there is seldom a surface oil for responders to recover. This is particularly true for typical spills from a vessel with 500-5,000 gallons, even in cold water.

  • Diesel is not very sticky or viscous, compared to black oils. When small spills do strand on the shoreline, the oil tends to penetrate porous sediments quickly, but is also washed off quickly by waves and tidal flushing. Thus, shoreline cleanup may not be needed for small spills.

  • Diesel fuel is a contaminant of concern due to its recognized aquatic toxicity in marine environments, however given the size of this spill and the fact that it was in open water, fish kills are very unlikely.

  • Given the fact that diesel fuel dissipates quite quickly on the surface, negative impacts to birds are very unlikely as well.

DEP hazardous material responders conducted an on-site inspection in the vicinity of Fort Foster this afternoon. During the site investigation, no noticeable sheen or shoreline impacts were found.

This incident is under investigation by The State of New Hampshire, the United States Coast Guard, and the National Transportation Safety Board.

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner, ME DEP david.madore@maine.gov or

Ryan A. Koroknay, LCDR, USCG SEC N NEW ENG (USA) ryan.a.koroknay@uscg.mil or

James P. Martin, Public Information Officer, NH DES james.p.martin@des.nh.gov

Media Advisory: Press Conference regarding Motor Vessel TOO ELUSIVE salvage efforts

June 30, 2022

When:

Thursday, June 30, 2022

2:00 p.m.

Location:

Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor

25 Wentworth Road

New Castle, NH

Agency Representatives:

U.S. Coast Guard: LCDR Ryan Koroknay

ME DEP: Mr. Bob Shannon

NH DES: Mr. Bob Bishop

Intentions:

Provide updates on the ongoing salvage operation of M/V TOO ELUSIVE and answer questions/concerns.

Media's video/photos can be captured from the shore or other public access points along the river. Aerial photography and drone flyovers are restricted due to safety issues and potential interference with recovery equipment.

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner, ME DEP david.madore@maine.gov or

Ryan A. Koroknay, LCDR, USCG SEC N NEW ENG (USA) ryan.a.koroknay@uscg.mil or

James P. Martin, Public Information Officer, NH DES james.p.martin@des.nh.gov

MEDIA ADVISORY Press Conference regarding Motor Vessel TOO ELUSIVE salvage efforts - CANCELED

June 30, 2022

The 2:00 pm news conference scheduled for today, June 30, 2022 has been postponed. The planned salvage effort for today has been canceled due to on scene weather conditions in the area and associated safety concerns. Once a suitable weather window can be identified to safely raise the vessel TOO ELUSIVE, the recovery operation and press conference will be rescheduled.

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner, ME DEP david.madore@maine.gov or

Ryan A. Koroknay, LCDR, USCG SEC N NEW ENG (USA) ryan.a.koroknay@uscg.mil or

James P. Martin, Public Information Officer, NH DES james.p.martin@des.nh.gov