WARREN — Maine environmental officials have selected a Rockport company to remove 27,000 tons of Gates Formed Fiber carpet-like material from an abandoned rifle range.

The Bangor Daily News reported that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection chose Farley Inc.’s proposal. DEP Director of Innovation and Assistance Bill Longfellow said the company will transport the material to the Dragon Cement plant in Thomaston, where it will be burned for fuel.

The Dragon Cement plant needs special permits before moving forward with the project. Officials say there are two kinds of plastic fibers in the material that prevented them from being recycled. The material — which was used for things such as lining vehicle trunks — is considered hazardous because it is highly flammable and difficult to extinguish if ignited.

The 70-acre site had been home to R.D. Outfitters rifle range, owned by Steamship Navigation. When the owners of that facility brought in the material during the late 1990s, Randy Dunican — who, along with his wife, Cathy, were the principals of Steamship Navigation — said it was to be used as berms to stop bullets from going off the property.

But some residents questioned whether the property was simply being used as an unlicensed dump, with the owners making money by accepting the material from Gates Formed Fibre of Auburn.

The DEP years ago estimated that Randy and Cathy Dunican received $1 million to allow the waste to be dumped on the property.

The DEP eventually went to court to take control of the site after the Dunicans said they had no money to complete the berm project, which would have consisted of covering all of the fiber with dirt. The DEP went to court and received $410,000 from the former owner to assist in the cleanup costs.

The DEP signed a contract with Triumvirate Environmental of Somerville, Massachusetts, in October 2013. Triumvirate agreed to remove all of the fiber waste from the site, and truck the material to a manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania, where it was to be converted into composite lumber, at no cost to the town or state.

DEP project manager Michael Parker said Triumvirate found a source of material closer to the Pennsylvania manufacturing plant and was no longer interested in the Warren pile.

 Information from the Courier-Gazette was used in this report.

A 2001 aerial photo shows fiber material waste in Warren, with Route 90 in the foreground. (Portland Press Herald file photo)

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