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Neighbors of Old Town paper mill sue the plant over 'offensive' odors

The Nine Dragons Paper Mill in Old Town.
Nina Mahaleris
The Penobscot Times/BDN
The Nine Dragons Paper Mill in Old Town.

Two neighbors of the Nine Dragons Paper mill in Old Town are suing the plant's owner for emitting a foul odor.

In a class action lawsuit filed in federal district court in Bangor, neighbors Walter Demmons and Kirk Ramsay said the plant emits a rotten egg odor that invades their homes and has caused unspecified property damages.

"On numerous separate and distinct occasions, defendant has discharged discrete and offensive noxious odors into the private residential properties of plaintiffs and the class, causing damages to property," the lawsuit reads.

In the suit, Demmons said the smell is so strong that he can't open the windows or go for walks, and Ramsay said the odor is the worst it's been in the 36 years that he's lived at his home.

More than 120 neighboring residents have reported similar experiences to the plaintiffs' attorneys. According to the lawsuit, there are some 5,900 residences within two-and-a-half-miles of the paper mill who could join the class.

A spokesman for ND Paper pointed to the $200 million that the company invested in the mill since 2018, when it purchased the plant that had been sitting idle. The Old Town mill has "become an integral part of ND Paper’s 100-year vision" and is responsible for creating 200 direct jobs, the company said.

"Unfortunately, we cannot comment on pending litigation, other than to firmly assert we believe the claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend our company," the spokesman added.

Sanford-based attorneys for the plaintiffs declined to comment beyond the lawsuit, other than to state: “The claims brought by the class members are certainly not baseless, and we do hope the entire community, including landowners, renters, university students and members of the Penobscot Nation will be served by this action.”