By Maxwell Hauptman
HAMPDEN — There is light at the end of the tunnel for members of the Municipal Review Committee (MRC) wondering when their waste will begin going to Fiberight’s long-delayed Coastal Resources of Maine plant in Hampden.
On Oct. 24, Fiberight CEO Craig Stuart-Paul presented to the MRC Board in Brewer an update on construction of the facility. Originally scheduled to open last April, the new timeline has the facility ready to begin commissioning in January and open to begin receiving waste in April.
“We’ve now issued a revised construction schedule that shows completion of construction by March 31,” Stuart-Paul said.
With construction of the Material Recovery Facility — the front end of the plant that sorts recycling and municipal solid waste — wrapping up, the next step is to begin installation of the anaerobic digestion chamber, where microorganisms will break down biodegradable material, as well as completion of the building’s roof. From there, the Coastal Resources of Maine plant can begin testing its equipment.
“We’ve provided an on-boarding plan to the MRC which shows some amount of waste on a start-stop basis coming in by the end of January, probably single stream,” Stuart-Paul said. “Because our ramp-up plan is parallel to the construction, we’ll start our commissioning plan as certain parts of the site are handed over to us. Our hope, then, is in April to be able to accept waste on a continuous, ongoing basis.”
When pressed by the MRC Board about the certainty of the April 1 start date, Stuart-Paul answered “with all the information I have right now, I’m sure.”
He emphasized, however, that the current timeline could not account for construction or weather delays, but did offer that with the materials, contractors and funding in place to complete the project, Fiberight would be able to consistently update the MRC on construction progress relative to the schedule.
If all goes according to plan, April is when the Coastal Resources of Maine plant would be able to operate at full capacity. It would then begin to incrementally receive waste from MRC members, a process that would likely be complete by the end of June.
“We are working with individual towns to on-board them in a manner that facilitates not only ramping up plant operations and commissioning equipment, but also facilitates a number of factors that make up a very complicated metric of how and when and why towns start this process,” said Fiberight Director of Community Services Shelby Wright.
With the status of recycling in flux in many MRC member communities, Fiberight also pledged to develop educational materials for towns to understand what will and will not be accepted at the facility.
A presentation of a more detailed plan for the on-boarding process is expected at the MRC’s annual membership meeting in December.