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Lawmakers discuss future of waste, sludge management at Hampden waste facility, Juniper Ridge Landfill

The state committee discussed what it will take for the Hampden waste processing facility to get up and running and sludge maintenance at the Juniper Ridge Landfill.

AUGUSTA, Maine — From waste processing to sludge maintenance, there are serious concerns about Maine's ability to process waste.

The state's committee on environment and natural resources discussed what it will take for the Hampden waste processing facility to get up and running and sludge maintenance at the state-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town.

The owner of the Hampden waste facility, the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), which represents more 115 communities in Maine, is asking the state for help securing a $20 million loan.

The loan would help cover the costs of restarting the facility, including costs associated with staffing it, paying for utilities, etc., according to MRC's Executive Director, Mike Carroll.

"If MRC does not have a defined path within the next 2-3 months, we will be forced to sell the facility to someone [who] will not use it to process waste," MRC President Karen Fussell, said.

In 2020 the plant closed just months after it began operating, and the loan is vital to getting it up and running again, according to Fussell.

Carroll said it could take a year to be fully operational and is expecting it to take 18 months for it to be profitable enough to begin paying off the loan.

In the afternoon, the state committee heard about sludge maintenance at the Juniper Ridge Landfill. Representatives from Casella Waste Systems, which operates the landfill, were in attendance.

In late January, the amount of sludge from municipal sewage plants spiked at the landfill, according to Patrick Ellis, Casella's Director of Organic Solutions.

At the time, he said the landfill was not getting enough dry material to mix in with it. Some days, the percentage of sludge in the landfill was as high as 50 percent, according to Ellis.

"Seeing how unstable that section of the landfill was, [the Juniper Ridge Landfill] made the decision that they needed to excavate material back out and mix additional dry waste with it to increase the stability," Ellis said.

On Friday, NEWS CENTER Maine's Vivien Leigh will take a deeper look into the Juniper Ridge Landfill.

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