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May 17 2012

SENATOR COLLINS: HAMPDEN PLANT TO STAY OPEN

POSTMASTER GENERAL TO FOLLOW COLLINS' LEGISLATION FOR SERVICE STANDARDS

 

WASHINGTON -U.S. Senator Susan Collins announced that the Eastern Maine Processing Center in Hampden will not close under a new policy adopted by the Postmaster General that was also included in a Senate-passed postal reform bill coauthored by Senator Collins.

 

In conversations with Senator Collins on Tuesday and Wednesday, U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told the Senator that he would generally follow the service standards in her legislation, which passed the Senate last month, until at least 2014.   Senator Collins' provision would result in the continued operation of the Eastern Maine Processing Center in Hampden by mandating the preservation of certain overnight delivery standards in some areas.  In Maine, reliable overnight delivery service would be impossible without both the Eastern Maine facility in Hampden and the Southern Maine plant in Scarborough. 

 

The reason both facilities are required reflects Maine's geography.  Today, a letter mailed from Fort Kent to Wallagrass --10 miles away -- travels to the Eastern Maine Processing Center in Hampden, 192 miles away, to be processed.  It then returns the following day by truck to Wallagrass - which is 182 miles away.   If, however, the Eastern Maine Processing Center were to close, as the Postal Service had previously proposed, this letter would have to have been transported to Scarborough -- 322 miles away from Fort Kent, and then get trucked another 312 miles back to Wallagrass.

 

The following is Senator Collins' statement:

 

"The Postmaster General has made the right choice in deciding to pursue service standards similar to those I authored and included in the Senate-passed postal reform legislation," said Senator Collins.  "As long as these standards are followed, the Hampden postal facility will not close.  This is welcome news for employees at the Hampden plant, and for the businesses and residents of northern, eastern, central, and western Maine.   I appreciate that the Postmaster General is listening and adopting a common-sense approach to processing plants and overnight delivery. 

"As a result of requiring the preservation of some overnight service, the Hampden mail processing center will be kept open.  As I have long argued, given the geography of our State, both plants - in Hampden and Scarborough -- are clearly essential to avoid lengthy delays in mail delivery which would cause a further loss of postal customers and revenues.

 

"If mail to and from the northern half of Maine had to travel all the way to the Scarborough plant to be processed, longer delivery times would have been inevitable, and that has consequences -- for small businesses advertising their products or billing their customers, for families who use the mail for their newspaper delivery, for seniors who rely on the mail for their prescription drugs, and for so many others.  As long as this new policy is in effect or if the Senate-passed bill becomes law, these troubling consequences will be averted."

 

The Postmaster General originally proposed elimination of 223 of the 461 postal processing facilities around the country, including the Hampden plant.  Senator Collins' bill and the Postmaster General's new plan would retain an estimated 320 plants nationwide -- including both Maine plants -- in order to meet certain overnight delivery standards.