Waste on a conveyor belt at the Coastal Resources of Maine plant in 2019. An offer is on the table to buy the facility, which has been shuttered since May 2020, but the bondholders that financed the facility's construction haven't acted on it. Credit: Sam Schipani / BDN

An offer to buy the Hampden trash plant that’s been shuttered nearly two years has been on the table for a month, but the people with the authority to sell the facility haven’t acted on the buyer’s offer.

The offer on the table and inaction from the bondholders that financed the facility’s construction mark the latest wrinkle in efforts to restart the waste processing facility that ran for about six months, then closed for a lack of financing in May 2020.

The Municipal Review Committee, the group that represents the 115 towns and cities that sent their waste to the Coastal Resources of Maine plant, discussed the bondholders’ lack of response to the offer during a meeting Wednesday.

“We’re not happy,” said Karen Fussell, the group’s president and the finance director for Brewer. “We’re very disappointed in the lack of response from the bondholders and the bondholders’ trustee. 

“We are concerned that the current prospective buyers have moved on due to the lack of response.” 

With the Hampden plant closed for nearly two years, the towns and cities that signed up to send their trash there have been sending it instead either to landfills or the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. incinerator in Orrington. 

Many communities eliminated their separate recycling programs in recent years, as the Hampden plant promised to extract recyclables from household trash. But with the plant not running, a number of Bangor-area towns now have no recycling.

The Municipal Review Committee has not identified the prospective buyer that made the offer. The group said in September that three entities that expressed interest in and toured the plant received invitations to bid for it.

A previous contender, Delta Thermo Energy, lost its exclusive right to purchase the plant last August after it couldn’t produce evidence that it had the financing to close the deal. 

The bondholders with the authority to sell the plant are several out-of-state investment funds. They’re represented by a trustee, U.S. Bank National Association, which declined a request for comment Wednesday through a spokesperson.

The Municipal Review Committee owns the land on which the plant is located, and also holds its state licenses that allow the facility to operate.

The company with the offer on the table has put forth multiple proposals since October, but the bondholders have been silent through the entire process, Fussell said.

The Municipal Review Committee’s board on Wednesday voted in favor of pursuing legal action that would force the bondholders to act or remove them from the sale process, Fussell said.

In addition, the group is exploring the prospect of becoming at least a part owner of the plant, if it means shaking the facility loose from the hands of the out-of-state bondholders, she said. 

The Municipal Review Committee has worked to keep the site ready for a new owner. It challenged Bangor Natural Gas this fall, for example, to resume service to the plant after the utility cut off its gas supply due to unpaid bills.

The committee has also worked with the Department of Environmental Protection to ensure the site is still in good standing with the state agency, Municipal Review Committee Executive Director Mike Carroll said.

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...