Baltimore Seeks Injunction Against Medical Waste Firm

October 04, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

The City of Baltimore has asked a federal judge to bar a new HawkinsPoint medical waste incinerator from accepting out-of-state waste.

The city filed for an injunction Wednesday in Baltimore, said FrankDerr, a city attorney. Medical Waste Associates, the developer of the $26 million incinerator, has been operating the facility without anoccupancy permit since last winter, Derr said.

"I would think (the city) would issue them a permit if they couldconvince the zoning authority that they wouldn't accept waste from out of the region," Derr said. "As it stands now, we've asked the court to shut them down."

MWA has two weeks to answer the city's charges in federal court.

An MWA attorney yesterday asked Maryland's highest court to dismiss a challenge from a Glen Burnie-based citizens group.

The Maryland Waste Coalition, an alliance of southern Baltimore and northern Anne Arundel residents, wants to challenge the decisions of state environmental officials who issued MWA refuse and air-quality permits before a jury.

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge ruled in October 1989 that the coalition had no legal rights to challenge the permits. However, a year later, an appellate court reversed that decision, saying the group can sue under the 12-year-old Maryland Environmental Standing Act. The case was ordered back to Circuit Court.

Kevin Dunne, an attorney for MWA, told the Maryland Court of Appeals yesterday that the lower appellate court exceeded its authority by raising the little-used Environmental Standing Act. Because neither side raised the act in its arguments, the court unfairly aided the coalition, he said.

"In effect, I have to fight four lawyers, not only the lawyer for the coalition, but the three lawyers on the benchas well," Dunne said.

G. Macy Nelson, attorney for the citizens group, responded by asking the Court of Appeals for still broader legal rights granted to environmental groups in other state and federal courts.

He said he didn't cite the Maryland Environmental Standing Act because he "didn't know about it."

Nelson said the coalition, which has opposed the incinerator since it was proposed two years ago, wants it shut down permanently. The coalition says that the region already violates pollution standards and new permits should not have been issued.

MWA has taken the city to federal court, arguing thatthe ordinance setting geographic boundaries is an unconstitutional restraint of trade. The case is now in the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

A city ordinance restricts the incinerator, which can burn up to 150 tons per day, to waste from the city, AnneArundel, Baltimore and Harford counties.

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