Friday, May 28, 1999
NESWC settlement implemented, state aid in the works
The Retrofit Settlement Agreement between North East Solid Waste Committee (NESWC) and Massachusetts Refuse Tech, Inc., related to the Air Emissions Control Project at the North Andover trash-to-energy facility, has been implemented. Under terms of the agreement, NEWSC is contributing $17 million and Wheelabrator $18.5 million to the total cost of the retrofit, making a 48/52 percent fiscal partnership and a commitment to move ahead in improving air quality in the Merrimack Valley. All required documents and approvals were put in place on May 12.
This concludes a two-year search for financial solutions that limit the burden on the 500,000 taxpayers in the 23 NESWC communities. The challenges in financing both the retrofit, estimated to cost $35.5 million, and the project's remaining $150-plus million in original construction debt have caused extensive debate.
"The NESWC board of directors believes this settlement agreement is a positive step for everyone involved," said Robert Moroney, chair of the NESWC board of directors. "It will result in full compliance with air pollution standards...and will save NESWC communities millions of dollars."
"The NESWC project was developed, contracts negotiated and the facility accepted by the state during the early 1980s on behalf of the 23 NESWC communities," Moroney added. NESWC communities currently pay an average of $95 per ton in trash disposal fees, which is twice the statewide average. That cost could double, bringing the cost to three to four times the statewide average. However, members of a bi-partisan NESWC legislative caucus are seeking some relief from the state.
On May 3, the FY99 capital supplemental budget passed by the state House of Representatives included $3 million earmarked to help reduce the cost facing NESWC communitities. Shawn Worster, executive director of NESWC, said, "We look forward to the continuing support of the Senate when this matter comes before them. We are also hopeful that the administration will look favorably on this issue." Both the House and Senate approved similar funding last year, but it was subsequently vetoed by the governor, according to Worster.
The NESWC towns include: Acton, Andover, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Boxborough, Burlington, Carlisle, Dracut, Hamilton, Lexington, Lincoln, Manchester-by-the-Sea, North Andover, North Reading, Peabody, Tewksbury, Watertown, Wenham, Westford, West Newbury, Wilmington, and Winchester.
This article was submitted by the North East Solid Waste Committee.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito