Compacted waste was part of load shipped from Ireland bound for Orrington incinerator

Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection investigates baled trash, mostly plastic, spillage into Searsport waters

Thu, 12/10/2020 - 4:15pm

    SEARSPORT — The Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection is investigating the discharge of two bales of compacted trash from Ireland into Penobscot Bay waters while being unloaded from a ocean freighter. 

    “Our first priority is to protect the environment and ensure a prompt and thorough clean-up of the area,” said David Madore, spokesperson for the DEP. “An independent contractor has been retained and is currently onsite to assist with the clean-up effort. DEP is working with those involved to address the situation and has launched an investigation into events that caused the SRF debris spill into Penobscot Bay.”

    The bales are identified as Solid Recovered Fuel and is a term used by European standards to mean non-hazardous waste to be used for energy recovery in incineration or co-incineration plants, he said.

    Madore said the contractor, Clean Harbors, was at the site Dec. 9.

    The bales are approximately 43 inches by 43 inches by 62 inches, although some are smaller in size, said Madore.

    Two bales were discharged during off-loading operations.  The bales consist of approximately 80 percent plastic, 11 percent paper, and 8 percent textiles and, “contain no putrescible material,” said Madore.

    The waste was bound for the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company, a trash-to-energy incinerator in Orrington. That incinerator has been in operation since 1988, and consists of  a front-end waste processing system and an electric power generation system.  Its owners anticipate that the PERC incinerator will be operational for another 20 years, or more, according to the company’s website.

    The two bales of trash that fell off the ship during unloading were bound for PERC for use as fuel.

    “The bill of lading which documents the receipt of a shipment specifies that the port of loading for the shipment was Warrenport, Northern Ireland,” said Madore.

    Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at; 207-706-6657