By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — A Covanta official said the company will “double its efforts” to clean roads near its Ward Hill plant in response to complaints it has done a poor job picking up debris that falls off trash trucks headed to the facility.
But Ken Nydam, the facility’s business manager, said Covanta officials were disappointed City Councilor William Macek put the matter up for discussion at last night’s council meeting meeting and talked to The Eagle-Tribune about his concerns without first contacting the company.
“We wish the city’s DPW or the city councilor would have contacted us regarding their concerns,” said Nydam, noting the company is one of the biggest taxpayers in the city. “We are always available to discuss concerns and we strive to be a good neighbor.”
Macek said he put the matter on the council’s agenda because he wanted to discuss it with the full council, not as one councilor. He said he also wanted the council to send a formal letter to Covanta asking the company to keep its promise to keep roads near the plant clean.
Macek said Covanta agreed to monitor and clean access roads to the facility on daily basis when it opened in Ward Hill 24 years ago. He said the company had been doing a good job for many years, but has slipped recently.
The plant is at the end of the Ward Hill Connector road close to Interstate 495.
“I have received many phone calls and emails today that this is the reality over there,” Macek said, “that it’s messy and has become a debris field over there. I didn’t bring it up to embarrass anyone because Covanta is a good business and they are good neighbors. But the connector road is right off 495 and it’s a main entrance to Haverhill. It’s not good when people see it littered with trash and debris.”
In addition to trash, Macek said he recently spotted a door from a house on the side of the road near the plant. Nydam said Covanta was not responsible for the door.
“Covanta does not process or accept construction waste,” Nydam told councilors. “That waste was likely headed to a different facility or dumped illegally.”
The council agreed to send Covanta a formal letter asking the company to do a better job cleaning the I-495 exit near the facility, the Ward Hill Connector and other areas near the plant.
Nydam said the company has already acted to address the problem. But he also stressed Covanta does not operate trucks that deliver waste to the facility. Those trucks are independent trash haulers, he said.
“With that said, we do care about their safe and clean operations,” Nydam said. “We monitor and observe all trucks when they come to the facility. If there is ever an issue with a hauler out of compliance with the rules and regulations, we notify the driver immediately and send a warning to the company.”
Nydam said Covanta has a “comprehensive program” to clean the outside of its facility regularly and that it provides a hauler education program for drivers who deliver waste to the plant.
But, he said, the company is limited in what it can do make sure roads near the plant are clean.
“With regard to road cleanliness, we are abutted by two state highways and have been told by MassDOT that they have jurisdiction,” Nydam said.
Nydam said the state has cleaning program for I-495 and that Covanta is “actively working with them to ensure the roads are properly maintained.”
“Covanta Haverhill would like to work to resolve these concerns as soon as possible,” Nydam said. “We will double our efforts with haulers to make sure they are aware of the rules.”
The plant is located at 100 Recovery Way on a 147-acre site in the Ward Hill neck section of the city. It is bordered by I-495 to the east and the Merrimack River to the north, south and west.
The plant, which began operating in 1989, includes a municipal waste incinerator, a 70-acre landfill, a fleet maintenance garage and a parts warehouse.