A $42 million recycling and composting plant planned for Curtis Bay may be doomed by the refusal of city officials to grant a financial break for the project, officials for the company proposing the project said today.
The plant, proposed by F&E Resource Systems Technology for Baltimore Inc. of Gaithersburg, would sort, recycle and compost up to 700 tons of waste daily from businesses in the city and surrounding counties. Environmental and civic groups that have fought incinerator projects in the area say they favor the proposal.
"I've never found a community that was willing to welcome with open arms a company that would bring in 40 garbage trucks per day," said John Kabler, regional director for the environmental group Clean Water Action.
But George Balog, city public works director, has balked at the company's request for a break on city charges for dumping non-recyclable trash at the city's Quarantine Road landfill, said Ronald Pickett, company president.
The charge is normally $50 a ton. F&E wanted to pay $10, which is the same amount charged that two incinerators which burn city and Baltimore County trash pay for dumping their ash in the city landfill.
"Everybody's been supportive of the project," Pickett said. "It just got to Mr. Balog and he said no."
Pickett said Balog questioned whether the project is feasible and has balked at giving the recycling facility the kinds of "sweetheart" deals previous city administrations negotiated with the Pulaski incinerator in northeast Baltimore and with the Baltimore Resource Energy Systems Co. trash-to-steam burner on Russell Street.
Balog did not return a reporter's call requesting comment. Pickett said he understood the city would give its formal reply to the company's request today.
Only about 5 percent of the 500 to 700 tons per day of trash the plant would handle could not be recycled or processed, said John A. Moag Jr., an attorney for F&E. Unrecyclable items include leather, rubber and some metal objects.
Balog has complained that such a deal would mean the loss of $350,000 a year in revenue, Pickett said. But F&E has proposed to swap waste with the city, taking 1.5 tons of trash from the landfill for recycling in return for every ton of unrecyclable material dumped there.
The company also has offered to provide composted dirt from its plant free of charge to cover the city's closed landfill at Bowleys ,, Lane in East Baltimore. City officials had estimated it would cost them $4 million to close that landfill.
"I wasn't asking for a sweetheart deal," Pickett said. "We're reducing the volume of the landfill, we're not increasing. We're helping his landfill."
The project is a joint venture with subsidiaries of Chrysler Corp. and the John Hancock insurance company, as well as a Japanese bank. The project would provide about 80 jobs.