ecomaine Press Release 8/4/2023

Nate Cronauer, Acting Communications Manager

ecomaine experiences a second episode of waste containing Iodine – Resulting in a Purplish-Pink Vapor Release

PORTLAND, Maine (August, 4th, 2023) – Today, ecomaine experienced a second episode of processing waste materials that it believes contained Iodine. For the second time in the last 2 days, purplish-pink vapor was reported being emitted  from one of ecomaine’s stacks. Both incidents were isolated to a short time period of about 2 ½ hours each. The ecomaine waste-to-energy plant is part of the local waste management agency located in Portland that is responsible for processing waste materials from 73 communities and recovering electricity from that waste. ecomaine’s plant operators  promptly responded by investigating the issue and  took the appropriate corrective actions to resolve it.  Within 2 ½ hours, the issue was corrected and normal operations resumed.

The cause of the purplish pink vapor continues to likely be waste received by the plant that contains larger than normal amounts of iodine. Iodine has been known to cause this purplish-pink vapor to be emitted from these kind of waste processing plants. “While we’ve been able to identify what we believe is causing the problem, we have not yet been able to identify the source of where this waste is coming from” according to Kevin Roche, CEO of ecomaine. “Like yesterday, we were able to keep the incident to a relatively short period of time (2 ½ hours)  before returning to normal operations”.

Although uncommon, several other Waste-to-Energy facilities around the country have experienced this “purplish-pink” effect in the presence of iodine in their combustion chambers. Iodine is a naturally occurring element found in sea water, rocks and sediment and is commonly used in pharmaceuticals, disinfectants, salts, inks, animal feed supplements and photographic chemicals. While vaporized iodine can pose health risks with more direct exposure in higher concentrations, it is unlikely that this would be the case in these circumstances. Not only was the duration of the incident relatively short, the height and location of the stack provides for appreciable dispersion.

The receipt of this unwanted chemical substance  serves as a clear reminder of the importance of making sure municipal solid waste is disposed of correctly and according to state and federal disposal standards. If you have any questions on proper waste disposal, recycling, or waste diversion please reach out for more info.

About ecomaine

ecomaine, located in Portland, Maine, is the member-owned, nonprofit, recycling and waste-to-energy operation that serves a third of the state’s population in 74 member communities.  ecomaine provides comprehensive long-term solid waste solutions in a safe, environmentally responsible, economically sound manner, and is a leader in raising public awareness of sustainable waste management strategies.