BAILEYVILLE — Baileyville residents who hoped the Department of Environmental Protection would extend the life of their landfill received bad news this week.
DEP commissioner Dean Marriott told Town Manager Donald Dye that his office had sent town officials a letter that indicated the agency would offer “no flexibility in extending our closure date.” The town’s landfill is scheduled to close at the end of this year.
According to Dye, Marriott believes Washington County residents have made “no serious effort to move this issue forward.” Dye said the commissioner made it clear that he did not believe the county could accomplish any significant progress between now and December 31.
Dye said he had discussed the issue with Calais City Manger Byron Burke, and the two planned to ask their respective councils for approval to aggressively seek permission from the DEP to build a secure landfill in eastern Washington County. Dye said he had met with his Town Council this week, and after a review of their options, they agreed to back a movement to build such a landfill.
During the past few weeks, Calais and Baileyville have taken a leadership role in a plan developed by Calais Mayor Vinton Cassidy to participate in cooperative dumping. The plan calls for communities whose landfills will remain open until the end of this year or longer, to open their landfills to those municipalities that use the Down East Landfill in Marion, a facility that is scheduled to close at the end of this month.
Calais has said it would take trash from its largest neighbor, Eastport, while Baileyville said it would take trash from its neighbor, Baring. Other communities, such as Lubec and Machias, have tentatively agreed to accept outside waste. To date, three communities — Perry, Pembroke and Robbinston — will have no place to dump their trash after May 31.
Meddybemps residents at a special town meeting Tuesday decided they were not interested in the plan. When a motion was made to accept solid waste from Baring, it died for lack of a second. Princeton also was invited to participate in the program, but voters at that town meeting decided to table the plan until a specific town asked to use the Princeton landfill.
Dye said that he was aware that the Maine Waste Management Agency had $5,000 in grant funds available that the Eastern Washington County Solid Waste Disposal Committee could apply for. He said the money would be used to begin the process to site a landfill in eastern Washington County.
In southern Aroostook County, Dye said, it cost $56,000 to begin the site selection process. He said representatives of Civil Engineering Services of Brewer had told him that the cost in Washington County might not be that high because much of the preliminary work already had been done.
Dye said he believed municipalities in the county had few options. He said if the county were forced to send its waste to the ash-to-energy incinerator in Orrington, it would cost $110 a ton. He said that cost included transportation.
A secure landfill, located in Washington County, Dye said, would cost $60 to $70 a ton because the development costs could be amortized over its lifetime. He said the county would build a secure landfill with an eye to a 30-year useful life.