4 Counties Unite To Find Place For Trash

January 09, 1991|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff writer

Planners froom Howard and three other counties will meet today to talk about the region's trash and what to dod with it.

The governments of Howard, Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties have spent 1 years searching for solutions for disposing the nearly 2,000 tons of solid waste the four counties generate each day.

The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, a quasi-state agency conducting the study, is looking at eight combinations of waste disposal methods for the counties to collaborate on.

The group hopes to present the options, possibly ruling out several, to the HowardCounty Council and the other counties' commissioners by late next month, said Christopher Skaggs, project assistant for the authority.

Skaggs said all the options include landfilling, composting and 15 or 20 percent recycling as mandated by state law. The state requires Howard County to recycle 20 percent of its waste by 1994. Less populous counties, including Carroll, Frederick and Washington, will be required to recycle 15 percent. The projected cost of the options ranges from $30 to $80 a ton.

Some options would also require the construction of a regional waste-to-energy plant. Such a plant would either burn trash to generate power or separate recyclable materials and process the combustible trash into fuel pellets to be burned elsewhere. Sites for the plants, if they are to be built, are still being discussed.

The issue is not yet "an emergency" in Howard County, which disposes between 700 and 800 tons of trash a day in its Marriottsvillelandfill, said John O'Hara, chief of the county Bureau of Environmental Services. About 70 acres of the landfill's approximately 190 usable acres have been filled since the landfill opened in 1980. Finding a site and starting a new landfill, if the county's elected officialschoose to, would take from five to seven years, O'Hara said. A regional waste-to-energy plant could extend the life of each county's landfill, Skaggs said. Other solutions, such as a facility to sort and process recyclable materials or a yard waste composting facility, are best done individually by each county, O'Hara said.

County public works officials expect to know soon how much space was saved in the landfill as a result of last fall's leaf composting program.

The program offered 6,000 homes a separate pickup for leaves, which were composted free by a Columbia mulch company.

Public works staff representing the four counties in the study will meet today to review consultants' reports on the various solid-waste options.

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