Rosedale plant gets first OK Soil-recycling unit would bake out the contaminants

December 30, 1992|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) yesterday gave preliminary approval for the construction of a controversial plant in Rosedale that would "recycle" up to 250,000 tons of contaminated soil per year through a procedure in which the material would first be subjected to very high heat.

"The department believes that it has taken extraordinary and unique measures to protect the public from any potential adverse health impacts," reads a news release issued by MDE. "Fifteen months of detailed review and analysis of the application has given the Department confidence that this facility will be capable of operating in compliance with all applicable air pollution requirements."

Mike Sullivan, an MDE spokesman, said Towson-based Environmental Recycling Associates, the plant builder, has to obtain two other operating permits before it can operate the plant.

Opponents of the soil-processing plant said they plan to appeal the permit approval to an administrative law judge, and possibly to a higher court.

"We're not going to drop dead and go away. That's for sure," said Jerry Hersl, president of Southeast Association For the Environment (SAFE.) "MDE was very prejudiced in the way they treated us."

"We knew it was coming," Del. Louis L. DePazzo said of the decision. The Dundalk Democrat represents the 7th District in which the soil plant is to be built.

Yesterday's permit approval gives Environmental Recycling Associates the right to build a plant on Todds Lane, just east of the 8200 block of Pulaski Highway.

Such a plant heats oil- and gas-contaminated soil to temperatures of up to 500 degrees to remove the contamination. The soil is then fed into a rotating, natural gas-fired dryer that extracts the petroleum products. Fumes and dust are further treated before the final gases are expelled through a 50-foot high stack, according to the MDE.

At Rosedale, most of the soil would come from oil spills and from sites where underground storage tanks have leaked.

Once on site, the tainted soil must be stored in a three-sided barn to keep it from blowing around. According to the permit, no more than 40,000 tons of tainted soil can be stored on site at any one time.

Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, D-8th, who represents a community near the proposed site, said his constituents are fed up with dumps and plants that emit air pollution.

"The bottom line is, why in my neighborhood?" said Mr. Bromwell. "Eight of the 10 worst air polluters in the state are in eastern Baltimore County. It's time to say, 'Enough is enough.' If you want to do this, go to another neighborhood."

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