HAMPDEN — The number of interested buyers for the waste and recycling plant in Hampden has been whittled down to three, Municipal Review Committee (MRC) members announced at a town hall meeting on Sept. 30.
“All three assume a closing before the end of the year,” said MRC Executive Director Michael Carroll.
The plant shut down in May and was placed in receivership in July. The board and bondholder trustees have been looking for a buyer for the plant since August, and initially received seven inquiries, said Carroll. Four eventually withdrew.
Two of the potential buyers would need to bring in an operator for the plant, said Carroll, while one plans to operate the plant.
Board members of the MRC have not yet seen the final proposals, said Carroll, which are being reviewed by the bondholder trustees. The board expects to sit down with the bondholder trustees within the next week, he said, to “discuss best fit.”
“We are looking very closely at the qualifications and the experience of the proposers in approaching operations of this sort,” said George Aronson, a consultant for MRC. “It does feel a little bit like a holding pattern but in fact, progress is being made; we are narrowing the field and engaging in higher and higher level discussions with the proposers.”
While the plant is closed, 75 percent of waste from member towns is being sent to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. (PERC) in Orrington, where it is burned for energy. The rest is diverted to Crossroads landfill in Norridgewock. Recycling contracts are separate from waste contracts.
Carroll said he thinks the plant could be up and running “fairly quickly” once a buyer is in place. As for changes to contracts, “Any change in tipping fees is a total non-starter,” said Karen Fussell, board president. The MRC has previously said it hopes to have a buyer in place by mid-October to the first of November.