The site of Bucksport's former paper mill looms behind the town sign. A company that purchased the old mill has raised the idea of reviving a dormant landfill. Credit: Ethan Genter / BDN

A scrap company that owns some of the old mill site in Bucksport has raised the idea of partnering with the town to reopen a local landfill for construction and demolition debris.

American Iron and Metal, which bought the former Verso paper mill after it closed in 2014, has proposed to work with Bucksport to reactivate the 1.1-million-cubic-yard landfill that took in papermaking byproducts at the mill during its heyday.

The arrangement, which hasn’t yet formally been heard by the Town Council, was talked about in a closed door session last week with the town’s economic development committee. It could be one of the only ways to use the now-closed landfill portion of the mill site going forward due to state environmental protection laws.

Such a proposal could be beneficial both to the company and the town. Through the venture, AIM could make money through tipping fees. The town could dispose of its own waste at a discounted rate and get a piece of AIM’s fees, according to town officials.

But AIM cannot revive the landfill without Bucksport or another municipal entity. The state banned the opening of any new commercial landfills in the 1980s but does still allow them to be operated by towns, said Susan Lessard, the Bucksport town manager.

Lessard stressed that the proposal is still in its initial stage and the only document detailing the idea is currently confidential — a common practice for the many economic development proposals that come into town hall.

The potential reopening of the landfill is scheduled to go before an infrastructure subcommittee of the Town Council on Nov. 10.

“This is the discovery phase to see if this is an idea of any merit,” said Lessard.

Lessard has known of AIM’s intentions for this type of project for some time, but it was put on the backburner at the onset of the pandemic.

After breaking down the paper mill, AIM sold several parcels of the site to Maine Maritime Academy for a professional development center and a planned fish farm. But the company still owns portions of the mill site, including the landfill.

The town currently has its construction and demolition waste picked up by DM&J Waste, a waste disposal company based in Winterport.  

If it came to fruition, AIM’s landfill would not take household trash.