BREAKING NEWS: Bar Harbor council expresses no confidence in waste agency, asks for special meeting of MRC

SOMESVILLE, May 19, 2021 - In a unanimous vote of no confidence in the Municipal Review Committee, the consortium of 115 towns which share municipal waste disposal, the Bar Harbor Town Council last night asked for a special meeting of the MRC to “answer some hard questions” about its management,

“I’m very disappointed in the leadership at MRC. They haven’t answered the hard questions that the BDN (Bangor Daily News) and people like Jim Vallette of Southwest Harbor’s warrant committee have asked,” said council member Gary Friedmann.

“I do think that Fiberight was sold to us as a pipe dream as an easier way to deal with municipal solid waste … that you could throw all your garbage in the hopper and magically it would get sorted and turned into recyclables and bio energy,” Freidmann added. “That hasn’t been shown to be possible and it may not be.”

Fiberight was the company which promised to take municipal waste and turn it into 80 percent recyclables. Lenders raised $90 million to build a plant in Hampden on land owned by the MRC, and Fiberight began operations in 2019.

It ran out of money quickly and the plant closed a year ago. Since then the MRC has been using an incinerator in Orrington and much of the garbage has also ended up in landfills. Last month it selected Delta Thermo Energy to re-open the plant.

Jim Vallette, vice chairman of the SWH warrant company and president of a materials research consulting company, has asked that the MRC be disbanded, questioning its competence in selecting DTE.

“The best opportunity to break MRC’s grip over our towns is now. I urge members to reject MRC’s request, and call for a members meeting as allowed under the Master Waste Agreement. It is time to explore legal options, including dissolution, because the Municipal Review Committee has demonstrated a chronic unwillingness to conduct due diligence in the interest of its members,” Vallette wrote in April.

The Bangor Daily News has written several articles challenging the veracity of claims by Delta Thermo. The BDN reported that people cited by DTE as references were not aware they were being used as such and that the plants DTE claimed to be running do not exist.

“Once DTE gets this contract then they have us over a barrel,” Friedmann said. “What’s to stop them from coming to us in a year or two and say, we’re just not able to do this? We’re going have to have more money. We’re going to have to jack it up or we’re out of here.

“Ultimately the town may be better off going its own way,” he said.

The council acknowledged that it will be difficult to get a quorum for a special meeting because the bylaws require approval by towns with 60 percent of the waste - or 60 tons.

But Friedmann said, “Why not send a message that Bar Harbor is fed up?”