BRUNSWICK

The Brunswick Town Council heard an update Monday night regarding the declining state of the town landfill on Graham Road.

In a memo from Town Manager John Eldridge to the council, the facility which has been operated by the town since 1984 has done so under two Maine Department of Environmental Protection licenses.

One license is issued under the MDEP by the Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management, governing operation of the landfill. The other by the Bureau of Land and Water Quality, governing the discharge of wastewater into the Androscoggin River.

Currently, water passes through three lagoons before discharging into the river. Even so, Eldridge emphasized this is not a water quality issue.

In fact, Eldridge said from June through September 2016, the amount of ammonia was well within parameters set by the state — better in fact than the town’s water treatment facility discharges.

It’s during the winter months that the levels become elevated. That said, Eldridge indicated the groundwater in the area “barely flunks” environmental tests.

Eldridge said the town has been facing “substantial challenges” since 2014 — specifically with groundwater and wastewater issues, facilitating an accelerated closure of the landfill.

The town has been working with consultant Woodard and Curran to explore options, however, have been finding any means of remediation to be cost prohibitive.

The town and the MDEP agreed on a five-year timeline regarding closure of the site and, after some confusion regarding when that clock started, Eldridge said the town more recently received assurances from MDEP Commissioner Paul Mercer that the state was willing to work with the town.

Eldridge said Woodard and Curran are currently completing a solid waste alternatives report, but it remains likely they will not come up with any more cost effective ways of treating the groundwater and wastewater.

Eldridge said the town may be eligible for reimbursement from the state due to the groundwater issue — up to 75 percent of the cost to close the site. That reimbursement, however, comes in the form of funds available from the state and will likely take years to recoup.

Eldridge said he estimates the high end of closing the site to be around $6 million. So far, the pay-as-you-throw program has gained about $2.3 million toward the cause.

Although it creates a comfortable buffer with the state reimbursing up to 75 percent of the cost, Eldridge said the town isn’t likely to see that money any time soon.

A current timeline draft schedule includes the development of a master schedule for the landfill. Amendments to the town’s solid waste ordinance would then need to be made to continue filling the landfill in early 2017.

If everything goes according to the draft timeline, final approval for closure would take place in the beginning of 2021.

Eldridge said they will be looking at the issue in-depth over the next couple months and will be bringing further recommendations before the council.



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