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August 01. 2013 8:29PM

Wheelabrator Claremont announces plans to close

CLAREMONT — Wheelabrator Claremont Company, a waste burning energy company, has announced plans to close next month.

The trash incinerator located on Grissom Lane drew controversy in a battle with some residents who said the Wheelabrator smokestack emits toxic pollutants into the air.

Wheelabrator spokesperson Michelle Nadeau said Thursday financial reasons drove the decision to close.

“Several factors led to this difficult business decision including economic conditions in both the waste and energy markets and a constrained transportation network in the remote region of New Hampshire near the Vermont border as well (as) a lack of economies of scale inherent in a small power plant operating at a fraction of the size of Wheelabrator’s 16 other waste-to-energy facilities,” Nadeau said.

The company is currently working to find positions within Wheelabrator and Waste Management for the 25 Claremont employees, she said.

In addition, Wheelabrator is working with local and state agencies to assist the employees, including the New Hampshire Work Center’s Rapid Response Team, the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, and the New Hampshire Department of Resource and Economic Development as well as the Vermont Department of Labor.

The 200 ton-per-day waste-to-energy facility plans to close its doors Sept. 30 after nearly 27 years of operation.

City Manager Guy Santagate said he was surprised at the news of the closing.

“It’s a private company that we thought has done well, but I guess in recent years they’ve had more issues than we’ve been aware of,” Santagate said.

The city stands to lose between $350,000 and $500,000 a year between lost water and property tax revenue, Santagate said.

Santagate said the job losses are a concern, but added there are some in town that welcome the closing.

“There are local people who are glad it is going,” he said. “They’ve hated it for years because they believe it affected the environment, the air.”

Earlier this year about 30 area residents appealed Wheelabrator’s state permit to operate before the Air Resources Council.

Appellants in the case live in Claremont, Charlestown, Cornish, New London, Newport and Unity as well as Vermont.

Wheelabrator maintained the plant provided dependable energy and environmentally safe disposal of waste.

mpierce@newstote.com


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