On January 22, the Lewiston City Council is expected to vote on entering into a 20-year contract with Casella Waste, allowing the debt-ridden company to expand operations at the Lewiston Transfer Station on River Rd.
On December 11th, the City Council held a work session on the proposed contract for Casella to build a “single-stream” recycling/processing facility. (Video of the meeting can at http://greatfallstv.net/webstream.htm . Click on the Lewiston Government link, and choose the 12/11/12 meeting.)
Out-of-state waste from Casella’s KTI Bio Fuels operation in Lewiston would be allowed in the proposed single stream center. Last year, KTI imported over 180,000 tons of waste from southern New England, most of which ended up in the state-owned, Casella-operated JRL dump in Old Town.
JRL is only allowed to take in Maine waste, but thanks to lobbying efforts by Casella, waste that is “processed” in Maine facilities legally becomes Maine waste, and is allowed in the state dump.
Any waste from KTI that could not be recycled would be burned at the MMWAC incinerator in Auburn and the ash disposed in the Lewiston dump.
In 2005, Casella President Jim Bohlig stated that the Lewiston’s River Rd landfill could become a “fairly reasonable replacement” for the company’s MERC incinerator in Biddeford. At the time, MERC was burning about 600 million pounds a year of waste, with over half of it trucked in from out of state.
In 2007, Lewiston City Councilors voted NO on a plan to enter into a 30-year contract giving Casella control of the city landfill.
With no ability to send the waste to Lewiston in 2007, Casella continued to burn out-of-state waste at MERC until Biddeford reached a deal with the company in late 2012 to purchase and shut down the incinerator. About the same time, a new contract was proposed for Lewiston, though this time under the greener-sounding plan of single-stream recycling.
Casella has also applied to the DEP to approve major expansion of the JRL dump and to allow raw municipal solid waste that was contracted to be sent to MERC up to be dumped in Old Town.
Casella has sent a rebuttal to Lewiston City Councilors claiming there had been misstatements and distortions about the company’s reputation, capability, and commitments to the communities where they operate. Read the letter here: CasellaRebuttalLewiston