North Country
10:04 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Patriarch Partners' Plant in Maine Is A Polluter, Report Says

The Center for Public Integrity has a new report on pollution problems in New England including the Old Town Fuel & Fiber, which is owned by the same company as Gorham Paper and Tissue.

“The factory, Old Town Fuel & Fiber, a paper mill, has over the past five years racked up $267,000 in federal air pollution fines for releasing illegal amounts of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and methanol into the air above its facility,” according to the report. (http://www.iwatchnews.org/2012/01/12/7851/states-slow-act-against-new-england-polluters).

The report says the Old Town facility “is among a number of New England facilities labeled ‘high priority violators’ by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A facility can become a high priority violator, or HPV, by exceeding emission limits, violating a local state or federal order or meeting other criteria developed by the EPA to identify polluters in need of close scrutiny.”

The report quotes Dan Bird, a spokesman for owner Patriarch Partners, as saying most of the pollution happened under previous owners and the plant struggles to stay within its carbon monoxide limits and is seeking a state permit to increase emissions of the gas.

“This is a huge economic engine in our relatively rural neck of the woods,” Bird said. “That doesn’t give us license to be outside of our legal requirements at all, but we’ve had a difficult time in a few areas. We’ve had some episodes but the majority of the time we are operating within our parameters.”

Patriarch Partners is an investment firm based in New York. Last year it bought the Gorham facility and reopened it.