If illegal dumping at rubble landfills is as inevitable as Delegate Marsha G. Perry believes, the Crofton Democrat wants to protect residents against the worst.
Perry and six lawmakers from Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties yesterday introduced legislation that would require rubble landfills to have liners made of compacted clay, high-density polyethylene and other safeguards against contaminants seeping into the ground.
State laws ban depositing anything other than tree stumps, dirt and construction debris, including asbestos, in rubble landfills.
"But we all know that's being violated," Perry said. "The environment is irreparably harmed when that happens."
At the very least, Perrysaid, she believes waste haulers from as far away as New England aredumping household trash in Maryland's rubble fills to avoid paying higher fees at lined municipal landfills. Many of her constituents wholive next door to rubble fills fear hazardous wastes also have foundtheir way into the unprotected pits, she said.
"Even household trash contains toxins that shouldn't be in an unlined landfill," said Perry, a member of the House Environmental Matters Committee.
County inspectors ordered the Al/Ray Super Concrete Rubble Landfill in Lothian to close its gates on Nov. 16 after finding medical wastes dumped there a day earlier.
An administrative hearing officer said lastmonth that the violation appeared to an isolated mistake made by thewaste hauler, not the landfill owner.
The Al/Ray landfill, which exceeded its approved capacity, remains closed.
Residents neighboring the Al/Ray landfill and a Crofton rubble fill operated by Cunningham Excavation Inc. have complained for years that waste haulers havedumped more than rubble at those sites.
However, the Department of the Environment has never confirmed those complaints.
"I don't think there is any de
gree of illegal dumping going on, particularly with hazardous waste, which has felony statutes associated with it," said Ron Nelson, former state director of hazardous and solid waste management, in a December interview. Nelson was appointed deputy secretary of the environment last month.
Asked about illegal dumping yesterday, Michael Sullivan, a spokesman for the environmental agency, did not not rule out the possibility.
"It's tough to monitor what goes into rubble landfills," said Sullivan, who added that his department has not yet seen Perry's bill. "Like a good deal of what we regulate, we have to rely not only on our inspectors but also inspections by the local governments and the people in general."
Perry added, "If we could afford
to have an inspector standing at every truck as it comes in, then we wouldn't need (liners). Certainly, we can't be there on a 24-hour basis."
The sophisticated liners already requiredat municipal landfills can cost millions of dollars. Perry said the liner proposed for rubble fills would not be as sophisticated, but she would not estimate the cost.
In addition to a liner, the bill introduced yesterday would require:
* A plumbing system to collect rain water called leachate that filters through trash, collecting contaminants.
* A plan to test leachate "so we know what's going in," Perry said. If excess contaminants are found, then the leachate wouldbe taken to a licensed treatment facility, she said.
* That asbestos debris be wet before being dumped. Wet asbestos is less likely tobecome airborne, Perry said.
Rules now require asbestos be sealedin separate containers, but that can mean plastic bags which can burst beneath truck tires, Perry said.
Delegates John Gary, R-Millersville, Betty Smith, R-Davidsonville, Joan Cadden, D-Brooklyn Park, Patrick Scannello, D-Glen Burnie, and two Prince George's County representatives co-sponsored Perry's bill.