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Candia incinerator plans take another direction

CANDIA - With the original closure plan for the town's old incinerator site stripped down at the deliberative session, a new, post-election Candia Board of Selectman have changed course on the issue, with a proposal for geological testing now up for discussion.

How to approach the closure, which is mandated by the N.H. Department of Environmental Services, has long been a contentious issue in Candia.

Previously, the board had pursued a contract with Epping-based EnviroVantage, with a $100,000 warrant to raise money for the contract. A vocal group in the town, including selectman Amanda Soares, opposed that course, taking issue with the proposed scope of work and arguing that local contractors could do the work for less money, describing the plan as "fiscally irresponsible."

On of the opposition to the plan's key points was that geological testing should be done on the theory that a more specific disposal request could yield lower bid figures as contractors may "bid high" given the ambiguity of how much hazardous waste disposal will be a part of the work.

This original plan was controversially killed at the Feb. 2 deliberative session, when the warrant was amended to a single dollar.

At their March 25 meeting, Selectman Amanda Soares passed to the board a copy of a proposal submitted to her by Stantec, an Auburn contractor, in November 2012. The scope of work for that particular proposal deals exclusively with the analysis of the ash on-site, calculating the volume of ash present, "characterizing" the ash by testing it for toxic contaminants, and offering recommendations for its removal.

The estimated cost of the analysis is $7,000, which will be paid for out of a previously reserved fund of $35,000. The proposal does assume, however, that hazardous waste concentration levels will not be high enough to require additional analysis.

The proposal indicates that the project could be completed within 6 months of authorization. Soares noted that the company indicated to her that work could begin in mid-April. The board will review the proposal to discuss at their next meeting on April 8.

Another component of the closure plan, the removal of two buildings on-site, is also in the works. According to Soares, an updated proposal on that project is upcoming..

On this piece, however, selectman Richard Snow cautioned the board in how they choose to fund the work.

"DES made it abundantly clear that the removal of the buildings was not a part of the closure plan, not a part of their responsibility," he said. "So if we're going to use the funds for testing, and then for removing, I would strongly suggest that we not expend any money to do anything on the buildings until after we (go through the process with the ash). . There's only $35,000, and DES is going to be reluctant to modify or to use the closure plan for anything on those buildings."

The meeting also saw a reorganization on the board in the wake of the March 12 election, at which now former board chair Joe Duarte lost his seat. Fred Kelley was voted in as chairman, with the recently elected Carlton Robie becoming vice chairman. Snow was the sole vote against both. Kelley, Soares, and Robie were involved in the removal of signs critical of Soares before the election. The event produced controversy in the town, but ultimately failed to derail Robie's election or Soares' reelection to the board.

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