AUGUSTA –– The departure of former Department of Environmental Protection chief Patricia Aho has caused a staffing shakeup at the agency.

Acting DEP Commissioner Avery Day said Tuesday that four high-ranking officials will no longer work at DEP. Three of the four departures were voluntary, Day said, and occurred around the same time that Aho announced that she was leaving the LePage administration to join the staff of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins as her office representative in Augusta.

Melanie Loyzim, the director for the Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management, has left the agency voluntarily, Day said. He said that her departure had been in the works for some time. Loyzim joined the DEP in 2006 and was the acting director of the Bureau of Air Quality when Aho became commissioner in 2011.

During stint under Aho, Loyzim was charged with defending the LePage administration’s adherence to the 2008 Kid-Safe Products Act, a law requiring the state to identify chemicals linked to health problems in children and providing regulators a method to ban the most dangerous ones from products sold in Maine.

Day said that Loyzim will be replaced in the short-term by Leslie Anderson. Anderson is also the director of Innovation and Assistance within the commissioner’s office.

Laura Welles, an enforcement attorney with DEP, is also leaving the agency. Welles, who served as the hearing officer during the DEP’s intervention in a controversial proposal to build a layover train facility in Brunswick, is leaving to take a position at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Welles joined DEP in 2005. Her last day is Friday.

Day said that Justin French, a policy director within the commissioner’s office, is also leaving the agency. French joined the DEP in February.

Day said that the safety training position within the commissioner’s office is being eliminated. He said he was unaware of any other staffing changes at the agency and that current changes are not the result of a purge that sometimes accompanies a change in leadership.

“I think when you stack all that up, it’s easy to say, ‘Oh, my God, they’re cleaning house over there,'” Day said. “But it’s really not the case. A lot of it is people pursuing other opportunities. I’m not at all surprised that folks are talking about it.”

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