A privately owned trash transfer station and processing facility in Gorham has been ordered to stop accepting waste because of complaints about odors and massive piles on its 5-acre site.

Plan-It Recycling & Transfer Inc., at the corner of Route 25 and the Gorham Industrial Parkway, had been cited twice by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the town’s code enforcement office for violations of waste storage laws.

DEP inspectors found that excessive quantities of stored waste were creating odors and posing a fire hazard.

“They were supposed to turn the waste around and recycle or dispose of it. They were not getting rid of it,” said Nancy Macirowski, a lawyer with the natural resources division of the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

Gorham Town Manager David Cole said the town reached an agreement in November with Plan-it Recycling, requiring the company to set up a $200,000 escrow account to help pay to clean up the debris piles and remove 600 tons of the waste during a two-week period.

Cole said the company did not comply.

Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren ordered the company’s owner, Roland Smalley, to stop accepting material as of Jan. 18.

Smalley said in an e-mail that he is now working to reduce the waste piles so they comply with state and town regulations. “We are diligently working towards a quick resolution,” he said.

He did not answer questions about how soon his business will reopen, what options are being offered to customers who show up with waste, or why the waste was allowed to accumulate.

Plan-it Recycling opened in 2004 and employs 15 staffers and 15 subcontractors. It accepts waste from homes including appliances, leaves and recyclables; construction and demolition debris; and so-called universal waste such as thermometers, computer equipment, batteries and mercury-containing fluorescent light bulbs.

It is one of about a half-dozen privately run facilities of its kind in Maine. The businesses are allowed to store much more waste than municipal transfer stations.

DEP inspections in 2009 and 2010 found waste stored outside of the approved handling areas, a lack of fire breaks between piles and inadequate staffing to monitor the waste drop-off.

Some neighbors welcomed the court action. Chris Fleury, owner of Maine Total Technology, at 652 Main St., said she has been watching the growing mountain of waste with concern.

She said the debris smells when it rains and throws up a cloud of dust in dry weather. She said she worries about the water that percolates through the piles into the ground.

When the company opened, she said, she welcomed it and patronized it – until the waste began to accumulate.

“It is a good thing it is in public view. If it was out of sight, the problem could have gotten much worse,” said Fleury.

Bob Morrill, who lives across from the facility on nearby Conant Street in Westbrook, said he is thrilled that Plan-it Recycling has been ordered to stop taking waste.

“It is a dump, for all intents and purposes,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: [email protected]