Sign for the currently closed Coastal Resources of Maine plant in April. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

A Pennsylvania company that has been negotiating to purchase the shuttered waste processing plant in Hampden no longer has exclusive rights to buy the plant because it hasn’t shown proof that it has the financing to make the purchase.

While Delta Thermo Energy can still purchase the Coastal Resources of Maine plant that has been closed since May 2020, the bondholders who have the authority to sell the operation and the group that represents the more than 100 Maine towns that send their waste there are now looking for other potential suitors.

The Municipal Review Committee told its members Friday that it’s seeking alternative buyers with the hope of completing a sale before the end of the year. The announcement casts more uncertainty over the future of how much of the state will dispose of its household trash.

Delta Thermo has failed “to meet several extended deadlines to produce proof of adequate financing,” Municipal Review Committee executive director Mike Carroll wrote to the group’s members.

The announcement came about a week after the committee hosted a town hall meeting where board members said Delta Thermo had yet to show it had financing to make the purchase. Committee officials at the meeting also took a previously unpublicized hard line toward the company, which they said had the power to make or break the deal.

Delta Thermo Energy signed a memorandum of understanding with the plant’s bondholders in December 2020 giving it the exclusive right to negotiate a purchase of the plant. Delta Thermo was one of seven entities that had expressed an interest in buying the operation.

Though the agreement had originally been set to expire on March 31, the parties extended it numerous times as the Municipal Review Committee and the bondholders’ trustee, the U.S. Bank National Association, waited for Delta Thermo to show evidence of financing.

After it was told it would no longer have exclusive rights to purchase the plant, Delta Thermo Energy told the bondholder trustee it was ending the memorandum, Carroll said. However, the company is still looking to get the financing to purchase the plant.

This is not the first time Delta Thermo has had issues with financing. A previous deal to build a waste-to-energy plant in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was nixed by that city largely due to concern that Delta Thermo had not secured funding for the project, according to a 2014 letter from City Solicitor Jerry Snyder. Delta Thermo CEO Rob Van Naarden called that letter “completely false” in a January interview.

Van Naarden has mischaracterized his company’s past domestic and foreign work as his company has negotiated its purchase of the Hampden plant. The company has listed technical advisers on its website without their knowledge and claimed to have developed a waste processing plant in Japan, though the company’s Japanese business partner said Delta Thermo had no involvement with its Japanese operations.

While the Municipal Review Committee owns the land on which the plant sits, the ultimate authority to sell the plant belongs to the plant’s bondholders, several investment funds located outside of Maine, which the trustee represents.

Van Naarden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.