SWH stuck with trash bill

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — There are sure to be hiccups during the first year a company works to become fully operational and Coastal Resources of Maine (CRM) at Fiberight is no exception, but the town is being asked to absorb the cost of that learning curve.

In a letter sent to the town from Eastern Maine Recycling (EMR) on Dec. 20, Vice President Ben ‘Lee’ Worcester wrote, “as of Nov. 1, 2019, Coastal Resources will not automatically reimburse additional cost incurred on behalf of haulers in the event of a bypass.”

Coastal Resources of Maine sent a notice to its customers and haulers on Dec. 19 explaining how they are working with their participating communities and contracted haulers to streamline the notification process in the event of a bypass at the facility. It also stated every effort would be made to give at least 24-hour’s notice if the facility is unable to accept loads and looking to bypass a load. Protocols for waste delivery and alternative disposal sites in the case of a bypass are still being worked out, according to the notice.

Throughout November, six loads of municipal solid waste from Southwest Harbor hauled by Eastern Maine Recycling, were bypassed at the Fiberight facility in Hampden. CRM has agreed to pay the cost incurred for one of those loads, which was received the day the plant went online; EMR is billing the town for the other five and any other loads that are rejected from the Hampden facility in the future.  On Nov. 1, the day the Fiberight facility went fully operational, their contract with MRC ended and the additional costs incurred by haulers was no longer covered.

An invoice from EMR for the town of Southwest Harbor showed a total of $1,448 charged for the bypass loads from November and December.

“There are lots of reasons a load could be bypassed,” said Shelby Wright, director of community service for CRM about loads being rejected from the Fiberight facility. “We are actually moving towards scheduling those loads.”

Those reasons include a temporary shutdown of the plant, equipment failure, or the tipping floor is full and haulers are turned away until it is cleared, she explained. According to Wright, the Municipal Review Committee had been covering additional costs for bypass loads so that towns did not bear the burden.

“We will reimburse extra transportation costs,” said Wright, noting the same rates from the original contract did not continue and CRM is working on a new fee schedule.

How the cost of a bypass is determined by Eastern Maine Recycling when charging its member towns is a complicated formula. According to the letter from Worcester, round trip miles beyond the CRM facility are charged at $0.16 per mile.

“We look at a map to see what site is most reasonable for a community — and that can change,” said Wright in making a choice between the Waste Management site in Norridgewock or Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town. “The landfills won’t accept any waste that we haven’t authorized for them in to accept during a bypass event.”

Bypass loads from EMR in November were taken to the Waste Management Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock, which is an additional 128 miles round trip from the CRM site. According to an online map, a round trip to Old Town from Hampden would be less than 50 additional miles.

EMR does have a contract with WM for its construction demolition waste.

Each trip to Norridgewock costs an additional $20.48. That amount is then multiplied by the bypass tonnage to come up with the bypass fee. Then, the bypass fee is multiplied by the town’s percentage of transfer solid waste tonnage in order to come up with the tonnage fee for each town.

Currently, the towns of Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert, Cranberry Isles, Frenchboro and Tremont all bring their municipal solid waste to the EMR facility and have incurred costs associated with bypass since Nov. 1. “They all received a bill, and all received a copy of the notice,” said Worcester. Those towns have all adopted the “one bin, all in” strategy with their household and commercial waste, which combines solid waste with recyclable material.

“We at Coastal Resources have made every effort that communities who have chosen one bin all in are not bypassed,” said Wright. “We don’t want the recycling to end up in the landfill.”

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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