Planning Board requests progress timeline from fire-damaged plant

Nov 15, 2017

New Bedford Waste Company president Michael Camara told Rochester's Planning Board that Zero Waste, located on 48 Cranberry Highway, is slowly finding its way back on track to completion, following a disastrous fire in May of 2016.

Construction on the 90,000 square foot recycling plant began in 2013. The company planned on recycling 90 to 95 percent of all of all accepted refuse. The plant also planned to convert solid waste into small fuel briquettes which burn similar to coal, but in a cleaner manner.

Municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, single-stream recyclables electronic products and more would be delivered to the site.

An evening fire in May of 2016 threw those plans off course. The fire began in the trash section of the plant, leaving a hole in the plant's roof. The blaze extinguished hopes of having the plant up and running in the near future, Camara said—and to make it worse, funds were not forthcoming.

He noted that he had requested several million dollars of funding from the state, only some of which he received.

However, he said, he is getting extra help from one bank now. "I'm confident we'll be closing by the end of the year, which is about the same time the roof will be finished," Camara said. "Then we'll be back in finishing the building."

"The employees keep it clean, they try to keep the plant moving. They're professionals and they take their job seriously," said Planning Board member Mike Murphy.

Gary Florindo agreed. "If they hadn't had that fire, we'd be a lot further along in these plans. It's a major plus for the town. We should work with them and move forward."

Camara said there was one bright side to the otherwise-devastating fire. "We're going to have much more advanced technology in the plant than we otherwise would've had," he explained. "It's like all the different iPhones. Technology is advancing so rapidly."

Johnson suggested that Camara return for the Planning Board's January meeting to give an in-person update on the recycling plant's progress, something Camara agreed to do.