Tag Archives: denmark

Maine Writer Asks: Can Denmark Residents Trust Nestle to Stop When Asked?

Some may believe that water should be harvested, but it’s important to proceed cautiously when giving away our most valuable natural resource: water.  Maine is blessed with an abundance of clean water, but it is not a unlimited resource that can satisfy the worlds ballooning demand for natural spring water.

Poland Springs may have a long history in Maine, but Poland Spring’s parent company Nestles is a international multi billion dollar company which main concern is to use a region’s water for profit.  While Nestles reaps the profits, local communities and the environment are paying the price.

The citizens of Denmark did not vote to sell water to Poland Spring and will not get PAID for the water that Nestles extracts.  Our Selectmen voted to approve Nestle’s permit for mass water extraction as the state of Maine is one of only eight states that still practices absolute dominion rules and does not have laws that would help a small town protect it’s ground water from mass water extraction.

Denmark residents did overwhelmingly pass a vote for a mass water extraction moritorium in order that our town leaders would have time to develop an ordinance that would help protect our ground water.  At this time the ordinance is a document to insure that water extraction is being adequately monitored.  The ordinance does not protect Denmark citizens if Nestles chooses to locate a pumping station in our town or if the action levels prove to be inaccurate.  Can Denmark citizens trust that Nestle will stop pumping water when asked, when there is so much money to be lost and no penalties that can be imposed?  Or would Nestles fall back on their tried and true defense that it would be a hardship to the corporation and it’s customers if they stopped pumping water from the Denmark well.

How can Nestles be considered environmentally clean? What is green about making, filling, transporting and landfilling billions of plastic bottles?  Our water supply may be healthy now.  But, can anyone truly predict how our surface water will be effected, once Nestle starts pumping water at both locations from the aquifer that Fryeburg and Denmark share?  True, Route 302 is a heavily traveled road, but is that reason for Nestles to locate a pumping station in a low impact zone on a hazardous section of that road?

In closing, the anti Poland Spring crowd are not the ones that have divided our towns.  Nestles has a pattern of using propaganda and lawsuits, pitting residents against one another in order to gain control of local water supplies.  Please continue to have lively discussions regarding the possible effects that mass water extraction could have on our beautiful Lakes Regions area.  Be sure to make an informed decision regarding Nestles and mass water extraction and try to understand why I am cautious in giving Nestle the right to pilfer our water for profit.

Visit DefendingWaterInMaine.org, WaterDividendTrust.com, StopNestleWaters.org, watch the movie “Flow”, read the books “Thirst, the Corporate Theft of our Water” and “Bottlemania.”

Donna Fournier
Denmark, Maine

An Open Letter About Denmark’s Nestle/Poland Spring Hearing (And Some Good Ideas)

This was forwarded to StopNestleWaters.org from a Fryebrug resident (city next to Denmark), and touches on a recurring theme: how do small towns write ordinances capable of protecting themselves from extractive industries like Nestle/Poland Spring.

It asks tough questions that every town should answer when they’re being courted by Nestle/Poland Spring.

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This is an open letter to all the citizens of Denmark who will be attending the “Open Town Meeting” on November 22nd at town hall.

The purpose of this meeting is for Poland Spring/Nestle to gain the approval for the renewal of their “Permit Application for Water Extraction” and to amend this permit to include an additional borehole and well house. There are many concerns and questions about this permit renewal and our current water ordinance. Since our ordinance is a work in progress, we feel that it would be a great opportunity to share with you some thoughts and ideas for improving our ordinance.

  • We need to move the authority for this ordinance and permitting process back to, our voter elected, Planning Board where it rightfully belongs. Every other town water ordinance we reviewed squarely gives responsibility to their Planning Board. We are the only town where the selectmen have taken control of the ordinance and water permitting application process.
  • We need to add language to address and protect the environmental issues and ecological systems. Our current ordinance addresses neither of these.
  • We need to have a bond or other security posted prior to approval of a water extraction permit, so residents can know the amount of coverage.
  • Alert and Action levels need to be clearly defined and set prior to approval of any permit. Exactly what water levels indicate an adverse effect?
  • If we hit a pre-determined Action level and the applicant refuses to stop extracting water, what is our recourse? Should we be assessing a monetary penalty in our ordinance?
  • Our code enforcement officer should not need to make an appointment to visit the extraction site.
  • We need to know where the load out facility will be located prior to the renewal of the permit. Will it be in Denmark?
  • We need to have effective, strong language in our ordinance that would govern hours of operation, noise levels, and glare from lights, increased traffic, and similar potential for nuisance. Our ordinance currently says that these nuisances are unlikely, but since we don’t know where the load out facility will be located, these may be very likely.

Our town officials have developed a great ordinance. However, in three years time, things have changed. Many towns have used Denmark’s water ordinance as a starting point. They have added stronger language to their water ordinances. Since our ordinance is a work in progress, we need to make some additional changes to our ordinance as well.

Please come to the hearing Nov,22 at 9:00 am held at the Denmark Town office.

— Natural Resource Defenders

Nestle Running Another Misleading Ad in Denmark Paper

In an attempt to protect its up-for-reneweal well permit in Denmark, Maine (the town next to Fryeburg and the source of the water Nestles wants to pump to a Fryeburg loading station), Nestle/Poland Spring have taken to running regular advertising, a close look at which is illuminating:

Note the use of “local” throughout the ad. It’s a recurring theme with Poland Springs: “We’re a Maine company” or “we’re a local company” messages abound, ignoring the fact that Nestle is the world’s largest food and beverage corporation.

Make no mistake; the profits from the sale of the water extracted in Denmark don’t stay local – they flow directly to corporate headquarters, and the town’s water resource is practically given away in return for… well, not even jobs in this case (it’s a well).

Defining $26,000 as “significant” tax revenue is a stretch, even by
small town standards. In truth, wells and loading stations deliver few
benefits to local economies (unless you define truck traffic, noise and
diesel pollution as “benefits”).

Our pick for “Nestle’s Most Astonishing Doublespeak of the Day?”

“We are committed to being a good neighbor and that means contributing to local needs and respecting local control.”

Given that one town away – in Fryeburg – Nestle/Poland Spring are actively trying to usurp local control through extraordinary legal means (they’ve sued/appealed the Fryeburg Planning Commission’s “no” decision five times).

At one point they argued that their right to grow market share superseded the town’s right to say “no.”

Respecting local control?

Only when it’s Nestle pulling the strings.

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Nestle Denies Reality; Ad Pretends It Hasn’t Sued Fryeburg Multiple Times

In an ad run in the Bridgton News (no online edition), Nestle Waters of North America tries to pretend its lawsuit and four subsuquent appeals (including a hearing before the Maine State Supreme Court) against the rural town of Fryeburg

I recently posted a story about a residents’ meeting in Denmark, where Nestle’s well permit is up for renewal. (Denmark is the source of the water Nestle wants to pump to a loading station in a residential section of Fryeburg, the permit for which has been repeatedly denied by the town).

Nestle – unhappy with the growing opposition to their wells in Denmark – bought an ad in the newspaper, suggesting they alone had a grasp of the “facts,” while opposition information was “fiction.”

To get a sense of their grasp of the facts, look at #5 in the ad below:

To paraphrase Nestle, “the facts are” that Fletcher’s statement is accurate, if a little forward-looking. Nestle’s permit for a loading station was first approved by Fryeburg’s planning commission, but then rejected because there’s no way you can pretend 100 heavy truck trips per day wouldn’t have a substantial impact on a residential area.

Nestle’s lawsuit and four subsuquent appeals – one of which was argued in front of the Maine Supreme Court – can’t be construed as anything but suing the town five times, and as Fletcher noted, another appeal is likely.

Finally, in #6 in the ad above, Nestle characterized opposition to their loading station as being the work of a “vocal minority” – an assertion which ignores the moratorium on bulk water export passed by Freyburg’s voters 467 to 304.

By what math does 467 to 304 work out to a minority?

Perhaps in Nestle’s corporate world, pretending something isn’t happening is good enough, but rural, small town America has a little more common sense than that.

If any of our Fryeburg/Denmark area readers has feedback about the ad’s reception in either town, feel free to post it in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.

We leave you with YouTube video of Nestle/Poland Spring’s argument before the Maine State Supreme Court, where they apparently suggest their right to grow market share supercedes local control of water, planning, noise and traffic:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glKQlsTdrFk[/youtube]

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Residents Oppose Renewal of Nestle/Poland Spring Extraction Permit in Denmark

Nestle’s legal bullying of the tiny Maine town of Fryeburg has taken on an almost Alamo-esque patina; activists around the country point to Fryeburg whenever Nestle’s operatives verbalize Nestle’s “good corporate neighbor” spin.

Fryeburg’s planning commission has repeatedly turned away Nestle’s attempt to build a 100 truck-trips-per-day loading station in an East Fryeburg residential area, yet Nestle simply fires up another lawsuit or appeal.

With opponents roughly $20,000 in debt, and Nestle’s fifth lawsuit against the town pending, it’s possible Nestle’s within a stone’s throw of getting its loading station… unless the nearby town of Denmark revokes Nestle’s permit to extract water.

Opposition to Nestle Appears in Denmark

Nestle/Poland Spring plans to pump water from Denmark wells, then pipe it to the East Fryeburg loading station. With its Fryeburg loading station stalled and its Denmark water extraction permit up for renewal, Nestle’s suddenly facing failure on both fronts.

Residents of Denmark recently gathered to discuss the issue (Nestle’s Mark DuBois also attended), and the Water in the News blog published a detailed report of the emotionally charged meeting:

Anger and a sense of determination prevailed among the nearly 40 people who met last Thursday to discuss action plans ranging from a water mining moratorium to a new ordinance with even stronger restrictions and conditions than the existing ordinance.

What a difference three years makes.

Back in May 2005, local residents were largely silent when multinational Nestle Waters asked for permission to dig a well and extract water to be pumped underground to a silo in East Fryeburg. The silo would serve as a tanker-truck filling station to send the water on its way to a bottling facility. Selectmen issued the permit, and residents passed a tough ordinance a year later giving the town the right to shut the extraction operation down if it was shown to be harming the underlying aquifer.

Since then, Fryeburg has been torn apart by the battle between “pro-” and “anti-Nestle” forces and a series of lawsuits and appeals, the latest of which awaits a hearing in the Maine Supreme Court. Work has yet to begin on the 40-foot tall silo. Meanwhile, residents of Shapleigh passed a six-month moratorium on Sept. 24 that stopped Nestle in its tracks and gained them national attention.

The Fryeburg situation can only be described in terms of disgrace, and it’s fast becoming an albatross around Nestle’s neck. The loading station delivers little in the way of economic return to the small town, yet the town’s suffering the kind of social strife and polarization that always seems to accompany Nestle’s attentions.

Nestle’s operatives are skilled at framing local disputes about Nestle bottling plants in “pro-business vs no-business” terms, even when it’s clear the issue is one of local control over resources vs handing control to a Swiss multinational.

A good example is this passage, where Jim Wilfong – former state representative Jim Wilfong, who founded a group called H20 for Maine – spoke about the town’s options (that local control thing again). Read on, and you’ll see Nestle’s operative attempt to derail the meeting:

His [ed: Wilfong] tone was even and measured — that is, until Mark Dubois, Poland Spring’s Natural Resource Manager, raised his hand.

“So you want to take control?” asked Dubois. “It sounds to me like a property rights issue.”

“That’s the way you see it,” Wilfong replied. “Some people don’t like it that our culture and our environment are being changed” “by Nestle’s activities in western Maine.

That prompted Emily Fletcher of Fryeburg to say that “we’re really grassroots people trying to confront what we see as a threat. We don’t have control, and I’m angry.”

She said Nestle” has changed the social environment in its 10 years in Fryeburg, pitting friends and families against each other.

“It is a highly charged political atmosphere,” she said, where people have been “put in office to support Nestle’s agenda.” When the Fryeburg Planning Board ruled against the company’s silo plans after it was remanded back to them by the Oxford County Superior Court, Nestle” once again appealed the decision.

Now they’re about to appeal our court case for the sixth time. I think that’s dirty politics[ed: emphasis added],” said Fletcher. “We have so far succeeded but we have succeeded because we haven’t failed,” she added, and urged Denmark residents to educate themselves if they want to be effective.

“I don’t think they understand or really care what we think — they are here for the resource,” Wilfong said.

Should Denmark prove successful at squelching Nestle/Poland Spring’s extraction permit, then it’s possible Fryeburg’s nightmare would end (though Nestle would likely wield its legal bludgeon against Denmark too).

How quickly the rifts in the town heal are another matter – one of little concern to Nestle.

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