Measure on public rubble fills offered Amoss introduces bill in Assembly HARFORD COUNTY

February 10, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

Rubble landfills, the object of intense criticism from local lawmakers and residents worried about contamination, shouldn't be run by private owners interested mainly in profits, a state senator says.

Sen. William H. Amoss, a Democrat whose District 35A includes portions of Harford and Cecil counties, has introduced a measure that would require new rubble fills to be run by counties or a regional waste management authority.

In Harford, the Northeast Waste Management Authority, a public corporation created to help subdivisions cope with waste disposal, already operates the waste-to-energy incinerator on the grounds of Aberdeen Proving Ground.

At least three of Harford's County Council members -- Jeffrey D. Wilson, the council president; Barry T. Glassman, R-District D; and Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C -- have been publicly calling for a county-owned rubble landfill for construction debris.

"If the county owned it, we could limit the waste it accepts to waste generated within the county, so we would need fewer rubble fills," Mrs. Pierno said.

The call in Harford for private rubble fills has been based on the experiences of the past year with Spencer Sand & Gravel Inc.'s rubble fill in Abingdon. The state Department of the Environment shut down the rubble fill after officials found Spencer's had accepted too much debris such as leftover boards and concrete used in construction.

In addition, tests have revealed high levels of suspected carcinogens in monitoring wells at the 55-acre rubble fill, and the company has been ordered to submit a clean-up plan.

Mrs. Pierno and other council members have learned the rubble fill continued to operate for many years without serious sanctions from the state Department of the Environment despite being cited repeatedly for operating violations. Mrs. Pierno has argued that if the county owned the rubble fill, it would have more control over what goes into the facility.

Cecil County, too, has qualms about private rubble fills.

In November, a county zoning board there rejected a proposal by a private company, Cecil Recycling Center Inc., to operate a rubble fill near the old Bainbridge Naval Training Center after nearly 600 people turned out to fight the project. Cecil now accepts rubble at its municipal landfill.

After that vote, county's planning commissioners also passed a new zoning restriction, requiring future rubble fills to be located in certain areas, virtually ensuring that they could be located only on land already owned by the government -- town, state, county or federal.

"If a new rubble fill was to pop up, it would be on government-owned land," said Al Wein, the Cecil County's director of planning and zoning.

"I can't see government leasing land to a private business. Because of the ownership, it [a rubble fill] would most likely be government-operated, similar to what the senator has proposed."

Mr. Amoss' bill would not affect Harford County's only operating private rubble fill, owned by Pappy's Inc., or the Spencer Sand & Gravel operation. A controversial proposal by Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc. to locate a rubble fill on Gravel Hill Road -- now tied up in litigation -- also would not be affected by the legislation.

"But all future rubble fills would be county-owned," said Mr. Amoss.

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