A Rockport company will be the next to try its hand at removing some of the 27,000 tons of carpet-like materials that have sat on a former rifle range off of Route 90 in Warren for the past 20 years.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection selected a proposal from Farley Inc. for the company to remove material from the site and take it to the Dragon Cement plant in Thomaston, where it will be burned for fuel, according to DEP Director of Innovation and Assistance Bill Longfellow.
In the coming weeks, DEP will draft an official contract for Farley to do the work, Longfellow said. However, the contract is contingent on Dragon Cement receiving the necessary permitting to burn the materials, which the company is working to achieve.
From a recycling standpoint, what has complicated removal efforts in the past is that the material is made of two different types of plastic fibers that are woven together. Longfellow said the recyclers he has spoken with said they would be able to recycle the materials if the fibers were separate, but entwined they constitute a mixed waste stream.
The mountains of carpet-like fiber arrived on the site around 1998, when the DEP allowed the owner of R.D Outfitters rifle range to bring in the materials from Auburn. Steamship Navigation, which owned the rifle range, claimed the material was going to be used as berms to stop bullets from going off the property.
But the berm project was never completed, and soon after the materials arrived, town officials say communications with the property owner went unanswered. Despite years of unpaid property taxes, Warren residents have rejected numerous calls at the annual town meeting for the town to take ownership of the property out of fear they will be financially responsible for the clean-up.
The DEP gained control of the site through a court order and since 2001 department officials have been looking for solutions to remove the materials. The last attempt to remove the materials fizzled out last year, when a contract with a Massachusetts company ended with much less material being removed from the site than anticipated.
The DEP put out a renewed request for proposals (RFP) in August and selected Farley Inc. earlier this month as the lowest bidder among three proposals.
While a total cost won’t be finalized until the contract process is complete, Farley Inc. estimated a cost for removal at $27 per ton, according to RFP documents.
The DEP has about $300,000 to allocate to this project. At $27 per ton for removal, the DEP would only have enough funding to remove a little less than half of the 27,000 tons of material on the site.
However, Warren town manager, Bill Lawrence, previously told the Bangor Daily News that many residents know the DEP doesn’t have the funding to complete the removal, but having “a few more tons removed from that site is better off than we currently are.”