Former state official sues over city sludge

February 08, 1992|By Ann LoLordo

The former state transportation secretary -- who has an interest in a firm hauling city sludge -- has gone to court to stop the Schmoke administration's proposed $320 million sludge disposal program that would convert the wet, gooey stuff into dry pellets.

The lawsuit was filed by Richard H. Trainor, who served as state transportation secretary between 1987 and 1990.

Mr. Trainer alleges that the city's agreements with two sludge disposal firms should have been competitively bid or negotiated as required by the City Charter.

Mr. Trainor said that he filed the lawsuit last month as "a city taxpayer."

But he also is the vice president of Resource Analysis Inc., a Landover firm that has an interest in C & R Contractors Inc., a Virginia company that shares in a $1.7 million city sludge-hauling contract with R & F Construction Co. of Reisterstown.

In December, Mr. Trainor asked city officials about a possible 10-year contract to continue hauling sludge.

Baltimore's proposed program to convert the sludge into dry pellets at a cost of $320 million over 20 years "had the effect of 'freezing out' " R & F from Baltimore's lucrative sludge disposal business, Mr. Trainor charged in the lawsuit.

When the Board of Estimates -- a panel of the city's top elected and appointed officials that must approve all city contracts and purchases -- approved the two agreements, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said the new sludge-processing effort would put the city "on the cutting edge of what's to come in terms of dealing with the problem of waste-water treatment and sludge disposition."

The mayor also acknowledged that the decision to split the work between two companies -- rather than select one through a competitive process -- would enable the city to use the best of two technologies and "see what is the most efficient."

Under the agreements, the city has the option of taking over the dry heat facilities.

The city now disposes of its sludge by burning, hauling and composting it.

Mr. Trainor is seeking an injunction to prevent the Schmoke administration from executing the agreements with Enviro Gro Technologies Inc. and a joint venture of Bio Gro and Robert Clay Construction Co., a minority-owned contractor.

A hearing on his request is scheduled for March 9 in Baltimore Circuit Court.

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