OXFORD — Zhenya Shevchenko, superintendent for Oxford’s wastewater treatment facility, went before the Board of Selectman, at its Jan. 12 meeting, to present options for treated sewer waste. Last October the town commissioned a study for Woodard & Curran, an environmental consulting firm in Portland, to identify alternatives to processing and disposing of sludge produced at the facility.

Until last year Oxford produced and sold sludge to Lewiston. With federal and state regulations no longer allowing it due to unsafe levels of PFAs, also known as “forever chemicals,” Oxford has had to store its processed sludge. According to Schevchenko, the facility has capacity to store the sludge for a year while the town determines an alternative solution.

The Woodard & Curran study issued two proposals for future waste processing, which both call for sludge to be dried before it can be disposed of.

Oxford Waste Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Zhenya Schevchenko addresses selectmen at their meeting Wednesday night. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat photo

“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’x60′ 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 new garage to accommodate that plan.

“The [de-watering] equipment is very expensive, and we’d only need to operate it a couple of weeks a year,” said Shevchenko. “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 dollars.

Shevchenko asked the Board 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 the same way Oxford has in previous years. 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 after 90 days of the foreclosure date.

Town Manager Butch Asselin reported that Oxford’s initial application to the Outdoor Heritage Fund for replacing fish screens on the Thompson Lake dam has been approved and he is working on the next phase of that project.

Transfer station Manager Ed Knightly  said he is working towards holding an open recycling day to take place in spring for residents to dispose of larger items like tires and mattresses for free. Vice-Chair Samantha Hewey applauded the idea and suggested the weekend before or following Earth Day, which will be Wednesday, April 22. Knightly said he will solicit volunteers to help staff the event, which has brought heavy traffic and volumes in the past.

Selectmen approved a bid to sell the town’s 2004 Mack Truck with plow to Wilson Excavating for $14,334.

A number of workshops have been scheduled over the next month:  Feb. 26 – reserve and undesignated funds accounts, Mar. 4 – Welchville dam and Mar. 11 – Thompson Lake dam. An additional workshop to review updates to the personnel policy will be scheduled for later in March.

Selectmen also authorized Asselin to prepare a bid request for major projects to Allen Hill, Robinson Hill, Oliver and Webber Brook roads, and drainage for Allen Hill. If the cost to do all the work exceeds the $1.8 million the town has earmarked to borrow, the Board agreed that some of the work to Oliver Road could be done by Public Works and be completed by at a later date.

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