PLEASANT POINT — Passamaquoddy officials have rejected a plan proposed by a former tribal governor to store hazardous waste on this seaside reservation until it could be shipped to a processing plant in Africa.
Gov. Rick Doyle said Thursday that the Passamaquoddy over the years have been strong proponents of the environment and environmental issues, which is why he rejected the plan almost immediately.
Noting the tribe’s environmental record, Doyle said several years ago it opposed a Maine company’s efforts to dump ash from its waste-to-energy incinerator in Township 30 near Wesley and also opposed the federal government’s proposal almost 15 years ago to bury nuclear waste near Indian Township.
Detailing his discussion with Clive Dore, Doyle said the former tribal governor had approached him about a Boston-based company that wanted to form a partnership with the tribe to store hazardous waste at a facility on the Pleasant Point reservation. Dore was unavailable for comment Thursday afternoon.
“They needed a place to store what is considered hazardous waste. It could be paint cans or whatever is classified as hazardous waste. They would store it at some facility that we had and then ship it through the port in Eastport to a company in another country where there is a processing plant. I believe they mentioned a place in Africa,” Doyle said.
The tribal governor said Dore had assured him that while the hazardous waste would come from throughout New England, it would not include nuclear waste. But Doyle said he got few details about the proposition once he had rejected the concept.
Although rumors of the project have been circulating around Washington County for the past few days, Doyle said the tribe was opposed to the plan. “The tribe does not want to get into those types of businesses, so I said no,” Doyle said.
Pleasant Point is surrounded on three sides by Cobscook Bay and is the major thoroughfare into Eastport where the port authority is building a new $15 million port. The port is expected to open this year.
Port director Jonathan Daniels said although the hazardous waste could be shipped through the port, there were many permitting processes that would have to be completed.
“We were contacted as a basic inquiry as to whether we could handle hazardous material cargo. We have no clue, no idea of what it would be,” Daniels said.
Daniels said a former tribal official, whom he declined to identify, contacted him in late December. He said the former tribal official did not disclose who the shipper might be, the nature of the material, nor the destination of the hazardous waste.
Pleasant Point Lt. Gov. William “Eric” Altvater said although he was not a part of the original discussion between the former governor and Doyle, he said he was opposed to any plan to store hazardous materials on the reservation.
“If I had finished a discussion with him regarding this topic I would have cut him off when he said hazardous waste. …That is not what we are about,” the lieutenant governor said.
Last year, Dore resigned as governor, a resignation he later asked the tribal court to reverse. The court rejected his request.
State tribal Rep. Fred Moore III said he too had rejected the proposal. He said he had heard that a new company would be formed and it would be a joint venture between the tribe and an out-of-state group. He called the plan “ludicrous.”
“To put this stuff in an area of Maine where there are some fish left in the ocean we would be jeopardizing that and the lives of our children,” he said.
Moore said he also believed such a plan would be shortsighted. “The country that is receiving it [hazardous waste] today, may be flying a different flag tomorrow and we could be stuck with it,” he said.