AUGUSTA, MAINE, August 4, 2023 — The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is investigating the cause of purplish pink emissions from the ecomaine waste to energy facility in Portland, Maine during the morning hours of August 3rd and 4th. On both mornings, ecomaine employees and members of the public reported seeing purplish pink vapors or emissions from the facility’s stack.
While the source of these emissions is still under investigation, facilities management believe it is likely the result of larger than normal levels of iodine in the waste stream received at the facility.
DEP staff from the Bureau of Air Quality and the Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management have been onsite and are working to determine the root cause of the problem, potential health, and environmental impacts, and how to avoid similar events in the future.
In addition to reviewing records and ensuring the appropriate operations of ecomaine’s air pollution control equipment, Air Bureau staff are working to facilitate the analysis of ash samples from the facility to identify the cause of these emissions more accurately. Staff from the Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management are working to identify potential sources of waste that may have led to the highly visible emissions. The Department is also working closely with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the potential public health impact of these emissions and the population potentially exposed to the vapors based on prevailing winds.
Some items, including bulk fluids, may require special handling or disposal methods when used in large quantities. For information on how to dispose of waste appropriately, visit DEP’s website at https://www.maine.gov/dep/waste/index.html.