Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Who is putting iodine-laden waste in the trash in Portland, Maine?

Credit: Portland Press Herald
Via the Portland Press Herald: 

The purple-pink plume was first spotted rising from the Ecomaine stack at the Blueberry Road facility on Thursday morning. Ecomaine officials said the issue was fixed within a couple of hours and was believed to be caused by a larger-than-normal amount of iodine in the waste stream.

But the purple vapor returned Friday morning and this time appeared more vibrant against cloudy skies. It could be seen as far south as Scarborough.

Nate Cronauer, a company spokesperson, said workers noticed the purple vapor around 8:30 a.m. Friday and immediately stopped feeding trash into the boiler.

“We’re confident it is purple vapor coming from a source of iodine that came in through the waste stream,” he said.

In a statement Friday, Ecomaine CEO Kevin Roche said, “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.”

The company, which generates electricity by processing waste, said in the statement that the incident “serves as a clear reminder of the importance of making sure municipal solid waste is disposed of correctly.”

So I'd really like to know what typical household or industrial solid waste contains a bunch of iodine? Is it film? A bunch of rotten seaweed? 


  1. Maybe from a meth cook/lab that’s being disposed of? Or a lot of iodine based disinfectant that’s being improperly disposed of.

    1. Maybe some old-timey drug store either closed or cleaned out their storage area, or a modern one had a shipment of damaged goods.

  2. Someone at Ecomaine has been taking the "Come on, Barbie. Let's go party" craze too seriously

  3. If I were to take a random guess I'd say a prepper was hoarding potassium iodide for nuclear accidents and someone else was left to dispose of it.

  4. I'm going with the others on guessing meth lab trash, Betadine, or potassium iodide.

  5. iodine is quite pricey, it would be worth isolating it at this concentration. But it is clearly some bad player who does not want to pay for hazardous waste disposal and puts multi-kilo quantities of iodides into muni trash. My first guess would be generic drug manufacturing company closing down its site and they simplified the "site cleaning" without realizing it will show up when incinerated. Apart from disinfection like iodine povidone, it could be poly-iodinated contrast agents for X-ray. Those are insoluble and reasonably safe to swallow/inject but not to incinerate


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20