By dumpy emmet
The Rockland landfill and recycling center and I go way back. I knew it when it was just “the dump.” People get angry if you use that word now.
I noted with great interest that the “landfill” is employing a $40,000 “flare,” or torch to burn of that unique smell which could, in the words of one philosopher, “gag a maggot.”
Anything that works.
That Rockland landfill (dump) smell can bring tears to your eyes, even if you are speeding by at 50 miles per hour (recommended.) When I came to town in the early days of the Civil War, the joke was “Camden by the sea, Rockland by the smell.” Nobody ever said the unique stench came from the seaweed extract dumped by Marine Colloids, so I guess it isn’t true.
One of the low points in my tattered life occurred when I resided at the Rankin Street hovel rented by landlord John Hammer. We got even with him by hardly ever paying the rent. Naturally I moved in during a summer heat wave with exactly no furniture. Not even a bed, not even a mattress. (I told you it was low.)
It was blazing hot. If you opened a window on the east side of the hovel, you got the smell from the nearby Seapro fish rendering plant. That one was described as “baked vomit.” Slam that window!
If you opened a window on the west side, you got the smell from the dump. Close that one, too!
Only Hammer would buy such a perfectly located house.
If you worked at the BDN for 30 years in Rockland (I did) you were going to write a lot of dump stories. City Manager Paul Devine once called a press conference to announce with a perfectly straight face that the city was going to use perfume to control the hideous smell at the dump. That story went national and the effort failed miserably, naturally. Never did get that label on the perfume, but it would have been unique ad campaign. “Chanel #5. It conquered the Rockland dump.”
The memory has grown delightfully dim, but the new chamber of commerce guy, one George Burr, wanted somebody to throw him several hundred feet into the dump, as a publicity stunt. Honest to God.
City Councilor John Lohnes said he would throw Burr anywhere he wanted. Wiser heads (there were a few) prevailed and Lohnes instead chucked Burr into the harbor. It was a great picture…and Burr lived to tell the story.
There was always a story at the dump on a slow news day. You must understand that the lime companies left some huge craters in the Rockland area. Wiser heads (there were a few) decided 50 years ago to fill the damn holes with rubbish instead of trucking it 60 miles away. This flew in the prevailing theory from the Department of Environmental Protection that you don’t dump your waste in a backyard pit.
The DEP tried everything they could to shut down the quarry operation. Several court cases ensued. But the bureaucrats could never find any contaminants in the test wells they dug around the dump. It drove them crazy. The quarries worked, even if they did smell like rotting corpses.
About 25 years ago, the city relented and shipped their rubbish to Orrington, with only demolition material going into the dump. No Matter. It still smelled like…well, rotting corpses.
According to a Steve Betts (he has his face on BDN newspaper boxes) story, the dump still produces methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, a true witch’s brew.
I am presuming that the $40,000 torch will not cause a massive explosion when the 50 years of trash shifts in the quarry and unleashes a cloud of methane. I would hate to lose that quarry, and that smell. It might be good for a few more newspaper items.
But the torch has to work better than that perfume idea.