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CWM Chemical Services, the largest employer in this town, announced Friday it is ending trucking operations at its Balmer Road landfill and dropping about 18 jobs as a result.

The laid-off workers once collected hazardous waste and transported it to the landfill for disposal. CWM Operations Manager Alan Davis said those workers hauled in about 20 percent of the waste disposed of at CWM. The rest was handled by subcontractors; now, all of it will be.

Davis said many of those laid off are truck drivers affiliated with the Teamsters Union. He said they have bumping rights to obtain jobs in the plant, which currently employs 130 people, or they can take their truck driving skills elsewhere.

"There's a pretty good market for people with commercial driver's licenses these days," said Davis. "There's a shortage of skilled truck drivers."

Public Affairs Manager George H. Spira said the company, a division of Waste Management Inc., plans to try to place the affected workers in jobs at other Waste Management facilities around the country.

"Because of its high tax structure, CWM has been struggling in a very competitive industry," Spira said.

Besides normal corporate income and property taxes, CWM must pay a 6 percent gross receipts tax to the towns of Lewiston and Porter and the Lewiston-Porter and Wilson school districts. That amounted to $2,231,501 last year.

In addition, the state charges CWM a tax of $27 on each ton of waste disposed at its location. Spira said earlier this year that CWM receives about 300,000 tons of waste a year.

"That really hurts, when competitors in other states have taxes of about $10 a ton," Davis said. He said CWM has been cutting its disposal prices in an effort to compete.

The company also has an application before the state Department of Environmental Conservation to allow it to increase the maximum height of its current waste landfill from 80 feet to 120 feet.

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