The deal between the Municipal Review Committee and Innovative Resource Recovery could close by June 2, 2023.
A truck brings trash to the then-Coastal Resources of Maine facility in Hampden in this 2019 file photo. Credit: Sam Schipani / BDN

A group representing more than 100 towns and cities across eastern Maine has named a new partner in its latest bid to reopen the long-shuttered Hampden trash plant.

The Municipal Review Committee will work with Innovative Resource Recovery to restart the idle Municipal Waste Solutions plant off Coldbrook Road, according to the organization.

Over the next 60 days, Innovative Resource Recovery, which is backed by a “multi-million dollar asset management firm,” will conduct due diligence while both parties negotiate a formal agreement, with a projected closing date of June 2, 2023, the Municipal Review Committee said Wednesday morning.

“We are excited to have selected a new partner to relaunch operations,” said Karen Fussell, president of the Municipal Review Committee’s board of directors. “Innovative’s vision for the facility aligns with that of the MRC, and they have the resources needed to restart the plant in a timely manner.”

In May 2020, the Hampden facility — called Coastal Resources at the time — closed after it ran out of money to operate. Since then, the facility has sat dormant.

Last August, the Municipal Review Committee purchased the facility and tapped Revere Capital Advisors, a New York-based investment firm, as its prospective financial partner.

Initially, a company called CS Solutions was slated to be the shuttered trash plant’s operator under Revere’s reopening plan. But that company withdrew after the Bangor Daily News highlighted its roots in a New Hampshire-based investment company that came to Maine more than a decade ago, pledging to reopen the Katahdin region’s two paper mills, which never materialized.

At the end of January, the Municipal Review Committee and Revere severed their partnership.

During the closure, the Municipal Review Committee has sent its waste to Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock, Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town and the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., a trash incinerator in Orrington. Without the Hampden facility, there is only one option between Wiscasset and Smyrna for waste processing that does not involve landfilling.

If the Hampden plant, which had promised to deliver a higher recycling rate than any other trash operation in Maine, does not restart, it would mean the loss of a facility that has cost $100 million in private and public funds altogether so far.

While work continues between the Municipal Review Committee and Innovative Resource Recovery, the municipal group will still seek a loan to finance the Hampden plant’s reopening.

In March, Fussell told state lawmakers that the Municipal Review Committee needs to find $20 million in financing or risk liquidating the Hampden facility.

Since the Hampden facility closed in 2020, the Municipal Review Committee has paid for the upkeep of the facility, investing $13 million, Michael Carroll, the group’s executive director, said last month.

The Municipal Review Committee will hold a town hall at 1:30 p.m. on April 13 to provide more details about the exclusive partnership with Innovative Resource Recovery and the schedule to reopen the Hampden trash plant. That meeting, which is open to the public, will be held virtually and anyone who wants to attend and register at the group’s website.