Landfill plan inspires questions

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LEWISTON – A citizens group wants more information about efforts to boost recycling before they’ll sign off on changes at the Lewiston Landfill.

The group, appointed by the City Council last fall, also wants more information about environmental monitoring and ownership at the landfill if the city contracts with Casella Waste Systems to manage it.

“But it boils down to us having a series of questions that we need to have answered,” said Robert Reed, chairman of the city’s Solid Waste Task Force. “Specifically, how does single stream recycling work and will it really have as big an impact as they say? We’d like to see some documentation of that.”

The task force is tentatively scheduled to meet with Casella officials at 6 tonight in Lewiston City Hall.

Councilors received an outline of a new management agreement last month for the city’s sanitary landfill and handed it off to Reed and the task force for a review.

Casella Waste Systems would pay the city up to $2.5 million the first year to take over management, plus pay a minimum of $800,000 per year in monitoring and host fees. Casella would also take over the KTI Biofuels incineration facility off of Plourde Parkway and convert it into a sorting facility for construction and demolition debris within four years.

The plan calls for creating a single stream recycling facility. People would dump all of their recyclable trash into one bin and leave it at their curb on trash day. Casella would collect it and take it to that facility to be sorted. The idea has been used in other states and is meant to make recycling more popular by making it easier.

“But Lewiston has a pretty good recycling rate now, and they think they can double it within two years,” Reed said. Lewiston residents have recycled between 5 and 7 percent of their household waste each year since 2002.

“So the big question is, how do they plan to increase those rates?” Reed said.

Reed said the group also wants to know whether the city or the company will be responsible for environmental monitoring at the Plourde Parkway facility.

“If they are going to be stockpiling materials there, before they get buried or incinerated or whatever, how will that environmental impact be mitigated?” he said.

Reed said he expects his group will report back to councilors at their July 17 meeting. If the task force and councilors approve, it could go before voters in November. It must also be approved by the state Attorney General’s Office or by the state Legislature.

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