Commissioners To Hear Options For Disposing Trash

Counties' Staffs Discuss Waste Disposal Authority Study In Private

January 13, 1991|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

A menu of ways Carroll and three neighboring counties can bury, burnor recycle their garbage will be presented to the County Commissioners on Feb. 5, as a regional waste study concludes.

The menu will list seven options for how Carroll, Frederick, Howard and Washington counties could employ a waste-to-energy plant, recycling or landfills to dispose of trash more efficiently.

Elected officials in each county ultimately will decide which options, if any, they would participate in.

Staff from the counties met behind closed doors Wednesday in Frederick to discuss a study by the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, a quasi-state agency,before presenting it to elected officials in February. The counties commissioned the study in June 1989 and split the $300,000 bill.

Frederick County officials refused to allow a reporter to attend Wednesday's meeting.

Because of the sensitivity of the issues, which could include building an incinerator or another landfill, the consultants want the counties' elected officials to hear the report at one time, said Christopher Skaggs, project assistant for the Disposal Authority.

The study is a good one, said James E. Slater, director of Carroll's Department of Natural Resources Protection, but he said he wants to read it more thoroughly before making recommendations to the commissioners. He said his department will continue to encourage residents to recycle and create less waste by purchasing recyclable or reusable goods.

Slater said he hopes to avoid building another landfill in Carroll. The county's two landfills each have enough space left for 12 to 15 years' use.

Carroll's County Commissioners have said they want more information before they decide whether to participate in building a waste-to-energy plant, but have not ruled out locating such a plant in Carroll.

The plant could burn garbage to generate electric or steam energy, which would be sold to utilities, or could turn garbage into pellets of "refuse-derived fuel" that other industries can burn, Skaggs said.

Slater said he is trying to schedule visits in the next month for the commissioners to see plants in Baltimore, Harford County and York County, Pa.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said one of her concerns in building a waste-to-energy plant would be an increase in air pollution and tipping fees.

Newer plants are cutting pollution, and although a waste-to-energy plant is more expensive to operate than a landfill, Carroll's $15-a-ton tipping fee will go up anyway, Slater said.

Earnings from those fees -- paid byhaulers and municipalities -- barely cover operating costs and don'tcover capital costs, Slater said.

Carroll's trash now goes to twolandfills -- Northern in Reese and Hoods Mill in Woodbine -- which collected 115,964 tons of waste during 1990, said John F. Curran, chief of the Bureau of Solid Waste Management.

That figure doesn't include sludge, which wasn't weighed, or waste that was recycled, Curransaid. Carroll now recycles 6.5 percent of its solid waste, working toward the state-mandated goal of 15 percent by January 1994.

Curran said he doubts any Carroll companies send trash to landfills outside the county, because the tipping fee here is lower than in surrounding counties and states, which charge from $18 to $55 a ton. No trash from outside the county is allowed into Carroll's landfills, he said.

A 1988 study by the Governor's Task Force on Solid Waste Management reported that Carroll generated 1.06 tons of trash per person annually; Howard County residents threw away 1.34 tons each; Frederick County, 2.74 tons; and Washington County, 1.40 tons.

Carroll's 1990 figures reflect recycling, showing residents generated an average offour-fifths of a ton per person, or 4 pounds per day.

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