BROOKLIN — Three Blue Hill Peninsula towns, Brooklin, Sedgwick and Brooksville, are exploring the idea of creating their own transfer station, according to selectmen.
Currently the three contract with the Blue Hill-Surry Transfer Station, which has been taking trash to the Juniper Ridge Landfill for several months.
That’s part of the reason why officials in those three towns are looking into a new transfer station.
Everything started with a split between the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), a nonprofit organization that manages waste disposal for many Maine municipalities, and the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co.
Before the MRC ended its contract with PERC, trash from the Blue Hill-Surry Transfer Station was being converted to energy at PERC’s Orrington plant.
But, the MRC decided to contract with an out-of-state company, which is building a plant in Hampden called Fiberight. That company will employ a new technology for converting waste into energy.
Until the Hampden facility is operational, trash from the Blue Hill-Surry station, among other communities, is being taken to the Juniper Ridge Landfill.
Michael Sheahan, first selectman in the town of Sedgwick, said the landfill was “definitely our impetus into looking into it.”
“I don’t think any Sedgwick resident is comfortable with our trash going into the landfill,” Sheahan said.
Ditto Brooklin and Brooksville.
“We’re all waiting for the Fiberight facility to come online,” Sheahan said. “It seems like everything’s up in the air in that regard. We started using this as an opportunity to look into other options.”
“For us, it’s can we do it? Can we have our station possibly in coordination with other towns that’s less expensive than we’re doing now? Then we have to decide if we want to take that on.”
Brooklin Selectman Bill Cohen recalled a general transfer station meeting late last year.
“The three of us that are signatories were standing in the hall and said to each other, ‘If Hampden doesn’t work, where are we?” Cohen said. “What are we going to do?’”
“The three towns decided what we ought to do is look at alternatives and compare costs,” Cohen said. “That conversation turned into two meetings. We also did a field trip to Orland, which separated from Bucksport to do its own transfer station.”
Sending trash to PERC is one option.
A PERC representative met with the selectmen recently to answer questions and discuss costs.
The selectmen from all three towns intend to visit PERC’s facility this month, Cohen said.
Brooksville Selectman John Gray said, “If it’s a feasible thing, we’ll be interested. It’s always good to look into options to see if there’d be an advantage to it.”
“We do work with Sedgwick now with our access to Walker Pond,” Gray said. “We’d like to do more with these towns with costs going up.”
Gray estimated that the three towns spend a total of $300,000 on the Blue Hill-Surry contract.
The Blue Hill-Surry Transfer Station is overseen by the Blue Hill and Surry boards of selectmen. The transfer station’s annual operating budget is about $850,000, said Blue Hill Selectman Jim Schatz.
If Sedgwick, Brooklin and Brooksville did form their own station, costs for Blue Hill and Surry wouldn’t necessarily go up, according to Schatz. Because there would be reduced use and tonnage, costs would go down, he said.
Meanwhile, trash disposal costs are going up.
Schatz said Tuesday that Juniper Ridge informed ME Astbury, which hauls the trash from the Blue Hill-Surry station to the landfill, that the price was going up 3 percent.