The Safety-Kleen Corp. apparently picked a bad time to propose building a hazardous-waste transfer facility in Odenton.
With the possibility that nearby Millersville Landfill was leaking hazardous chemicals into well water, residents were not about to welcome more waste stored in their community.
At a hearing Wednesday night, the people aimed their anger not just at company representatives, but at state and county officials who,they said, can't be trusted to regulate the industries.
"We are all on wells, not city water," Anna Deinlein, who lives a few hundred feet from the Mayfield Industrial Park, said Wednesday at a Maryland Department of the Environment hearing.
If there is a leak, she wanted to know, "what will it do to us? Is it going to affect my skin, my lungs? I'm not a great speaker. I'm just a housewife, a wife and a mother. This is very upsetting to me."
Officials from Safety-Kleen, an Illinois-based Fortune 500 company that operates several transfer facilities in Maryland, told residents that they have little to worry about. State-of-the-art equipment will prevent leaks and spills, they said, while frequent surprise inspections from the state will ensure compliance.
The firm, which has 200 plants across the United States, Europe and Asia, wants permission to store 1,485 16-gallon drums and build six external 20,000-gallon tanks on 5 acres in the park off Telegraph Road.
The facility would combine operations from Safety-Kleen's Glen Burnie and Silver Spring operations and would be used to store petroleum-based products such as used anti-freeze, solvents and dry-cleaner waste. The chemicals would be trucked from Odenton to recycling plants in New Jersey and South Carolina.
Catherine A.McCord, environmental manager for the company's eastern division, said Safety-Kleen's clients are small companies that don't generate enough hazardous waste to be regulated by the state.
Without companies like Safety-Kleen, McCord said the waste commonly ends up dumped inback lots or landfills.
"The term 'recycling' is not thrown out as a glitter term to get you to accept this," she said. "It is our business. We are not bringing waste into your community; we are taking it out."
Many residents said they applauded the company, but they simply don't want the waste stored so close to homes.
Robin Ireland, representing the Severn River Association, said the group is worried about hazardous runoff into tributaries feeding into the historic waterway. She said such a hazard violates the spirit and the intent ofstate laws designed to protect the river.
"We are truely amazed that such a proposal would even be considered at such an environmentally sensitive site," she said.
Safety-Kleen's proposal is to store 1,485 16-gallon drums and build six external 20,000-gallon tanks. Four of the tanks would hold clean -- or unused -- solvent, which is sold to area companies. The other tanks would hold used solvent, which would be shipped out to recycling plants in South Carolina and New Jersey.
In addition to the tanks, the company wants to build two 80,000-square-foot warehouses, half for office space and half for storingdrums.
Between 35 and 40 step vans would use the facility on a daily basis, leaving the Odenton site around 7 a.m. and returning by 4 or 5 p.m. They would be hauling drums of waste collected from garagesand dry-cleaning businesses.
County Council Chairman David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville, asked the hearing officer from the Department of the Environment to listen to the residents and their concerns.
"We have so much going on and the people have been told for so long that everything is OK, and now they find out that everything is not OK," he said. "We have to have breathing time to address what is going on now, before we add things in the future."
But W. H. Wilson Jr., who represents the Washington Metro Auto Association, said Safety-Kleen is vitally important to keeping the area free of hazardous waste.
If not for companies that pick up the byproducts from small garages, he said, "businesses will deal with it as they always have dealt with it -- throw it in the trash. And hence, the Millersville Landfill."
If the state approves Safety-Kleen's plans, an operating permitwill be issued 30 days from that date, unless opponents file an appeal for a new hearing.
The official record from this week's hearingwill remain open until next Wednesday, allowing people to submit written statements or evidence they want considered until then.
Edward Hammerberg, a public health engineer for the Hazardous Waste Division of the state Department of the Environment, will then make a recommendation on the permit to the director of the Hazardous and Solid Waste Management Administration, Richard Collins.
Collins, along with the secretary of the department, will make the final decision.