Lehigh proposal to burn tires gains support

June 03, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

The politicians liked the idea of burning tires at Lehigh Portland Cement Co., most of the citizens didn't oppose it, and the company can't wait to start because it will save money on fuel.

A public hearing last night on the Union Bridge company's plan to burn 2 million tires a year was lopsided: Of 21 people who spoke, only one opposed the plan. About 70 people attended the two-hour hearing sponsored by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) at the Union Bridge Community Center.

Eight politicians said they support the plan, saying it will help solve the problem of what to do with millions of scrap tires stockpiled each year in the state. The Maryland Scrap Tire Recycling Act of 1991 bans dumping tires in landfills after Jan. 1.

Elizabeth H. Mikols, manager of environmental affairs at Lehigh's corporate headquarters in Allentown, Pa., said the company asked the politicians to attend the hearing.

Burning tires is "a proven method" and will be "a beneficial service to the community," said state Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll and Baltimore.

"It is a project where everybody benefits," Carroll Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said.

Only one company in Maryland -- Essroc Materials in Lime Kiln, Frederick County -- currently burns tires. Stack tests there have shown that burning tires creates less sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions and slightly more carbon monoxide emissions than burning coal, said Donald P. Andrew, program administrator of the Air and Radiation Management Administration at MDE.

Burning one car tire is equivalent to burning 2.5 gallons of oil, specialists say. Tires burn cleaner than coal because they have less sulfur.

Lehigh makes 1 million tons of cement a year in Union Bridge, using 400 to 500 tons of coal a day. Tires would replace 20 percent of that fuel, Lehigh plant manager David H. Roush said. Lehigh expects to be paid 20 cents per tire by whomever brings in the tires to help cover its $2 million investment in equipment, plus salaries for four new employees, he said.

Ms. Mikols said she did not know how much money the company would save by burning tires.

Westminster resident Jacquelyn D. Loats opposed the plan, saying she is against burning waste.

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