Rockland eyes using more quarries for disposal

ROCKLAND, Maine — The attempt may be a long shot, but the Rockland City Council wants to determine whether it can use additional quarries for disposing of demolition debris.

The council met Wednesday night and held a lengthy workshop on the future of its waste disposal and recycling programs. After more than two hours of discussions, the council decided that a top priority would be to see if the city could use additional quarries for disposal and whether that would have an effect on Rockland’s efforts to get reimbursement for closing the current quarry landfill.

The city has used adjacent quarries along Old County Road for trash disposal for generations. The city stopped disposing of household trash in the quarries in November 1988 when it opened a transfer station and shipped the wastes to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company’s incinerator in Orrington.

The city also had dumped sludge from its wastewater treatment plant into the quarries until the early 1990s.

Councilor William Jillson, who was elected last month, said one of his priorities was to see if the state would allow the city to use another quarry once the current one is filled. The current quarry is projected to be filled in three to five years if Rockland continues to accept demolition debris from other communities. The capacity would not be filled for an additional decade if Rockland limited disposal to debris generated in Rockland.

City Manager James Chaousis said it may be difficult to convince the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to allow Rockland to open another landfill in a quarry.

The city manager said he will be checking with the DEP to determine what conditions are included in the state’s reimbursement program for closing landfills in which the state could pay up to 75 percent of the expenses. The estimated cost of closing the current quarry landfill is $3 million. The city has saved $1 million for that project.

Chaousis said he expects that one of the conditions may be for the city to set up a more rapid timeline for closing the landfill. The DEP for decades has voiced concerns over the use of landfills in general and particularly the quarry ones because of potential contamination to groundwater.

In addition to the quarry and reimbursement issue, the council also asked the administration to provide more information on the options of single-source recycling versus the current method of residents self supporting recyclables into multiple bins. The city will be holding workshops to get the sentiment of the public, he said.

At the Wednesday night meeting, Chaousis announced that he has hired William Butler, who has worked for the DEP since 1992, as Rockland’s assistant code enforcement officer. Butler’s duties for many of those years was to inspect the city’s solid waste facilities.

The Jefferson resident is scheduled to begin work Dec. 31. He succeeds David Kalloch who retired a little more than two months ago.

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