FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — The Tri-Community Recycling and Sanitary Landfill, which serves about 36 towns in Aroostook, was assessed penalties in excess of $3,500 by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, according to a recent agency enforcement report.

“Tri-Community … violated the department’s rules concerning landfill siting, design and operation by allowing uncontrolled leachate discharge into stormwater conveyances, failing to place adequate daily cover over waste in the active cell of the landfill, and providing inadequate litter control,” said Peter Carney, director of procedures and enforcement with the DEP. The violations reportedly occurred in 2011.

Carney added that Tri-Community has resolved the deficiencies for which it was fined and ceased the unlicensed discharge of pollutants from the landfill to the facility’s stormwater system. The solid waste management facility also placed appropriate cover over disposed waste, and operated and maintained all facilities and systems of treatment and control to achieve compliance with stormwater requirements, according to the director of procedures and enforcement.

“To resolve the violations, Tri-Community paid $3,565 as a civil monetary penalty. Of the $3,565 total penalty amount, $2,852 was offset by a Supplemental Environmental Project for the purpose of conducting a household hazardous waste collection project in northern Maine,” said Carney.

The infractions and penalty were announced in the DEP’s enforcement report for September 2013.

Mark Draper, solid waste director for Tri-Community, said the violations were connected to severe weather conditions and should not diminish the positive steps his operation has made toward responsible waste management and environmental stewardship.

“Tri-Community has demonstrated its commitment to protecting our environment through a number of proactive programs and projects over the years, and in fact we were recognized by the USDA Rural Development Agency with an Environmental Stewardship Award in 2008. Unfortunately, this particular incident occurred following record-setting rainfall events in 2011, which was the wettest year on record in Caribou, and which substantially hindered our ability to complete earthwork at the facility,” he said.

“While we acknowledge the violation of the rules, Tri-Community has aggressively implemented steps to prevent a recurrence, including purchasing additional equipment, and revising plans and procedures. The most significant of these was the installation of a pipeline to convey landfill wastewater to the Caribou Utilities District for treatment, at a cost of $1.1 million. The success of these efforts was evidenced by very positive comments from the DEP during an inspection of the facility in July of this year,” Draper added.

Tri-Community, which is located on the Murphy Road in Fort Fairfield, is owned by the towns of Caribou, Fort Fairfield and Limestone, and serves approximately 36 towns in Aroostook.