A Laurel company that disposes of radioactive medical and laboratory wastes attempted last night to allay residents fears about a proposed transfer station in Odenton.
RSO Inc. has outgrown its Laurel offices and the transfer station it operates on the outskirts of Laurel, general manager Rick DiSalvo said during a public hearing at the Odenton Fire Hall last night.
DiSalvo said his company plans to consolidate its operations in a new 20,000-square-foot facility on a 2.7-acre site in the Mayfield Industrial Park, located on Mayfield Road between Route 170 and the MARC commuter rail lines.
The 16-year-old company -- known as Radiation Services Organization before it incorporated in 1982 -- sells monitoring equipment, conducts radon testing, provides consulting services and disposes of low-level radioactive wastes for laboratories and hospitals, DiSalvo said.
The Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, North Arundel Hospital in Glen Burnie and the county government are among RSO's customers, he said.
Residents asked about truck traffic into and out of the proposed facility, the types of radioactive material being stored there and RSO's safety record.
Several expressed opposition to placing the facility in Odenton, which already is home to several heavy industries.
"When you say radioactivity, it scares people," said Ana Deinlein, an Odenton resident whose Betson Avenue home is down the street from the proposed facility. "We don't want it here."
DiSalvo said the "fear of the unknown is understandable, but this is material used day in and day out by a number of businesses and industries."
RSO's nine box trucks and minivans regularly pick up small quantities of low-level radioactive wastes -- including X-ray images and other medical wastes -- already sealed in steel drums, DiSalvo said. RSO never opens the drums, he said.
The drums are brought back to the transfer station and stored before being loaded onto larger trucks and shipped to out-of-state hazardous waste landfills.
DiSalvo said the wastes are sent to specially designated burial sites and processing plants -- which reduce the volume of radioactive wastes -- in Barnwell, S.C.; Gainesville, Fla.; Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Chicago; Richland, Wash.; Denver; and Batty, Nev.
DiSalvo said the company does not deal with any power utilities or dispose of any high-level radioactive wastes, including spent fuel from nuclear power plants.
RSO shipped out 35,000 cubic feet of low-level waste last year, DiSalvo said.
The facility RSO hopes to build in Odenton would include offices, a laboratory to calibrate gauges and monitoring equipment, a radon testing lab and a warehouse for the waste disposal operation and a small mail-order sales business, DiSalvo said.
About 30 of the company's 50 employees would work out of the new facility, DiSalvo said. Other employees, such as radiation safety technicians, work in the field. Others are stationed with customers, such as the U.S. Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County.
Councilman David Boschert, D-Crownsville, organized last night's town meeting at the Odenton Fire Department's meeting hall to inform residents about the proposed facility.
Mary Baldridge, Boschert's aide, said RSO must apply for two state permits -- one to transport radioactive waste to and from the new site and another to store waste there temporarily. The state Department of the Environment will have a public hearing before issuing those permits, she said.
"To be candid, there is nothing legally I can do as a councilman to stop it," Boschert told the group.