Waste to energy studied Panel learns about process

April 09, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Carroll County's waste-to-energy study committee learned yesterday how trash is converted to electricity, what the conversion facilities look like and what kind of air pollutants are associated with them.

Committee member Richard J. Borkowicz, an environmental engineer who has helped design waste-to-energy plants, provided the committee with an overview of a waste-to-energy plant and its operations.

Mr. Borkowicz said that in the most common waste-to-energy plant, garbage is dumped into a receiving pit and then moved into a burner.

A Lancaster, Pa., incinerator, which county officials have visited several times, is this type of mass-burning plant.

Generally, when garbage is burned, hot gases are produced that are used to convert water into steam. The steam is used to generate electricity, Mr. Borkowicz said.

He said the trash is not sorted when it's dumped, but workers do pull out things like stoves and refrigerators.

Waste-to-energy plants discharge into the atmosphere: acid gases; metals, such as arsenic and mercury; and organic compounds.

Mr. Borkowicz said air-pollution control equipment can reduce some emissions by as much as 99 percent.

"There is going to be air pollution," he said. "It will not be removed 100 percent."

Jim Slater, administrator of Carroll's Office of the Environment, said "very stringent controls" will be required by the state and federal government in connection with the permits and site of any waste-to-energy facility.

In other matters, committee Chairman Lloyd W. Helt asked members to decide what three issues subcommittees should study.

James F. W. Talley recommended that subcommittees be formed to study funding, private vs. county ownership, recycling vs. other alternatives, and the disposal of ash residue.

nTC "I'm fascinated by funding," Mr. Helt said. "That will be a [sub]committee."

The waste-to-energy committee, appointed by the county commissioners late last year, has been charged with studying the feasibility of building a waste-to-energy plant.

The committee will meet April 22 to travel by bus to a Baltimore trash-burning facility for a tour and meeting.

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