OXFORD — New federal and state regulations mandating cleanup of “forever chemicals” has town officials searching for options for processing and disposing of sludge at Oxford’s wastewater treatment facility.

Selectmen on Wednesday night authorized plant Superintendent Zhenya Shevchenko to check for grants to help pay for a system to deal with the issue.

Shevchenko presented the results of a study commissioned by the Board of Selectmen last October, which identified two alternatives for future waste processing.

Until last year, Oxford produced and sold sludge to Lewiston, he said. With federal and state regulations no longer allowing it due to unsafe levels of certain chemical compounds called PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” the town has had to store its processed sludge. According to Schevchenko, the facility has capacity to store sludge for a year while the town seeks a solution.

The study, conducted by Woodard & Curran, an environmental consulting firm in Portland, issued two proposals, both of which call for sludge to be dried before it can be disposed.

Oxford wastewater treatment plant Superintendent Zhenya Schevchenko addresses selectmen Wednesday night. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

“Their preliminary report went in two directions,” Shevchenko said. “The first is kind of old, simple, green technology, drying beds. It would require a greenhouse, about 20 feet by 60 feet. We would dump the sludge and it de-waters on its own.

“By my calculation, we would end up with up about seven tons of dried waste a year. By comparison, South Portland produces about 100 tons in that time.”

The second option would require new, expensive de-watering equipment, including a centrifuge for processing. Shevchenko said that with limited space at the plant they would need to build a garage to accommodate that plan.

“The equipment is very expensive, and we’d only need to operate it a couple of weeks a year,” Shevchenko said. “And there would be maintenance expenses.”

The natural drying process by greenhouse would cost about $937,000, he said. To set up a mechanical de-watering system would cost the town more than $2.1 million.

Shevchenko asked selectmen to authorize him to pursue grants to help defray the expense of a new system. His research would include completing an environmental impact study.

Selectmen unanimously approved the request.

In other business, Town Clerk Elizabeth Olsen updated the board on pending foreclosures on 31 properties. The board voted to execute foreclosures. After foreclosure, affected property owners will be given 15 business days to contact the town about their intentions regarding their properties. If arrangements are not made within that time, properties will be listed for sale 90 days after the foreclosure date.

Selectmen also authorized Town Manager Butch Asselin to have requests for proposals prepared for major projects on Allen Hill, Robinson Hill, Oliver and Webber Brook roads, and drainage for Allen Hill. If the cost exceeds the $1.8 million the town has set aside for it, the board agreed some work on Oliver Road could be done by the public works department and completed later.


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