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Hooksett disk tab heads to $1.5m

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 13. 2011 11:48PM

HOOKSETT - Costs related to the March 6 spill of millions of white disks from the town's sewage plant are approaching $1.5 million, but the town is contesting parts of a bill sent by the state of Massachusetts.

Bay State officials are asking the town to pay overtime rates as high as $106 per hour, Sewer Commission Chairman Sid Baines.

'We're not paying those,' Baines said of the overtime rates, which he said amounted to about $25,000 from a bill of $100,000 sent by Massachusetts. 'We're contesting it. It's a lot of money.'

Efforts to reach a representative of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection or its commissioner, Kenneth L. Kimmell, were not successful.

As recently as June, only $212,000 of sewer department money had been spent. At that time, nearly $1 million from the Hooksett Sewer Department's reserve accounts was authorized to pay for the cleanup.

Baines said the town's contract with Enpro Services of Newburyport, Mass., to clean up the disks is expiring soon.

The company issued a news release saying it was wrapping up its work. The company said it had collected about 4 million of the 4.3 million disks that spilled into the Merrimack River in March and ended up on beaches from Maine to Rhode Island.

Baines said numerous communities and state governments have submitted bills to the town for their cleanup efforts.

'We've paid them all,' he said.

He said the town has shelled out about $1.4 million to $1.5 million so far related to the cleanup, including the payments to other communities, the town's $676,000 contract with Enpro and other costs, including attorneys' fees.

The costs could have been higher, but volunteers also helped clean up the small plastic disks, which collect and consume human waste bacteria.

Since the spill, the town has installed an alarm system at its plant that notifies employees of spill hazards. The alarm was due to be installed on the day of the spill.

Baines said the town has a $50,000 'contingency contract' with Enpro in case more disks turn up.

'I'm certain there's still more out there,' he said.

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