A bulldozer caps part of the landfill that is at capacity at the Waste Management Crossroads facility in Norridgewock in August 2018. Morning Sentinel file

NORRIDGEWOCK — Residents will soon be able to give town officials their input on Waste Management’s application to expand its landfill by almost 50 acres.

If approved, the project would begin this spring and likely be in operation through 2037.

On Thursday, the town’s Planning Board convened via Zoom to discuss the site’s plan review application from Waste Management’s Crossroads facility in Norridgewock for the 48.6-acre site. Those participating in the meeting included members of the Planning Board, representatives of Waste Management Disposal Services of Maine, legal counsel and other stakeholders in the project.

No decisions were made about the application at the meeting, although some in attendance expressed concerns about the construction while others thought Waste Management was doing more than enough for the town.

No major infrastructure changes are needed for the project, labeled Phase 14 and split into five stages. Officials have worked to make sure all state and federal regulations have been met.

 

The Crossroads Landfill, owned by Waste Management Disposal Services of Maine, serves more than 50 communities in central and western Maine and is the second-largest landfill in the state.

Dating back to 1990, operations at the landfill have included single-sort recycling, electronic waste diversion, battery diversion, cardboard recycling, wood-waste recycling, beneficial tire reuse, waste evaluation, sustainability consulting and a renewable landfill gas-to-energy plant.

The Crossroads’ Renewable Landfill Gas-to-Energy Plant has been capturing gas released from waste decomposition to generate electricity since 2009. It powers two 20-cylinder Caterpillar engines. Annually, the system collects and burns 470 million standard cubic feet of landfill gas.

Because the five-stage Phase 14 project will exist over many years, some board members felt an addendum should be added to the agreement requiring Waste Management to provide regular updates on the project to town officials as a means to keep communications open.

Other members, however, were not in favor of this, citing how Waste Management is already regulated by several state and federal agencies and does not need to report to the Planning Board.

“We’re a board that’s going to change constantly,” said Joshua Chartrand, a member of the Planning Board. “Who are we as a board to make any decisions? They’re regulated through a much-higher power than us, and I do not agree with making them have to report to us. They are regulated enough.”

If Waste Management wanted to keep in contact with the town and keep the Planning Board informed on what is happening, however, Chartrand said he would support that.

Waste Management officials said the current space will reach capacity by 2024, and adding acreage would allow the landfill to meet communities’ future needs. The amount of waste coming in is not expected to increase, officials said at last Thursday’s Planning Board meeting. All current activities, such as odor management, would continue.

If the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the town of Norridgewock approve the expansion, construction would likely begin this May and be completed in 2023.

At the meeting, an engineer with CMA Engineers Inc. of Portland, which the town hired to help with technical aspects of the project, said in previous meetings, issues with the application were identified and Waste Management had provided explanations and updates to address those problems, including traffic to the area, the amount of waste being brought in, odor, the footprint left, erosion control and shoreland zoning.

At public hearings on the application, residents have raised concerns about air quality, groundwater protection, recycling and visibility surrounding the landfill.

At Thursday’s meeting, two more people said they had concerns about the proposed expansion, and asked how complaints about the landfill are handled.

Katherine Wilder, a Norridgewock resident, said she was concerned about the proposed expansion because she has placed about 20 telephone calls since the fall of 2019 regarding smells coming from the landfill. She said none of her calls had been returned and she knows of no one following up on her concerns.

“I have never once got a callback,” Wilder said. “I would like to know what the testing process is when a resident complains about the smell.”

Jeff McGowan, senior district manager at the Crossroads Facility, said when he receives a complaint, it is documented and investigated. Employees are sent to the location where the complaint was made to check for odors and deal with any issues.

“Some complaints are not linked to the landfill,” McGowan said. “We investigate, but sometimes the odor is gone. We follow up on each and every question.”

A public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Feb. 11 on Zoom, at which others are invited to offer input.

More information is posted at www.townofnorridgewock.com.

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