A town is unexpectedly paying thousands of dollars for trash disposal as a trash incinerator auction was delayed for a third time.
The foreclosed Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., or PERC, stopped operations May 2, but continued accepting trash from Orrington residents until early September. Trash is now going to Juniper Ridge Landfill because the incinerator is full.
PERC’s auction is now scheduled for Oct. 25. The auction was originally scheduled for July but delayed to August and then September.
The continued delays leave the future of the facility unclear. Repairs are needed to the incinerator and it’s unknown what will happen if it continues to sit idle.
Staff with Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection visited the plant this week and talked about winter preparation if needed, Deputy Commissioner David Madore said. He said DEP is monitoring the issue and is communicating with the plant operators.
Juniper Ridge Landfill charges a tip-in fee, which costs the town of Orrington around $3,000 a week, Town Manager Chris Backman said at a meeting. Orrington didn’t pay tip-in fees for the last 30 years at PERC.
There were about nine months left in the town’s fiscal year when the tip-in fees started, Backman said. If PERC stays closed, it’ll be about $100,000 of unbudgeted expenses for the fiscal year, Backman said.
Partial operations could resume within a couple weeks of purchase, but returning to full operations will take significantly longer because there are repairs needed. The processing system will likely be reevaluated before both boilers are up and running, plant manager Henry Lang said previously.
Temporary layoffs of 31 people were announced in early September and were supposed to end Sept. 30, Lang said previously. There were no additional Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications about the plant at the time of publication.
PERC, a 40-acre facility located off of River Road, also known as Route 15, once took trash from 44 communities and commercial waste haulers.
The trash was burned to make electricity, and burned 315,000 tons of trash in 2017, its last full year of operation.