Montgomery incinerator project detailed Waste-to-energy facility faces environmental concerns

June 08, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Montgomery County is building a $359 million waste-to-energy facility to handle 1,800 tons of garbage a day, a Carroll committee studying incineration was told yesterday.

"There are fewer and fewer projects like this on the market today" because of environmental concerns that arose in the mid-1980s, said Michael A. Gagliardo. He is the executive director of the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority (NMWDA), which owns the Montgomery facility.

Mr. Gagliardo said Carroll officials, who are awaiting the committee's recommendation on whether to build a waste-to-energy facility, will face similar concerns about air emissions and ash residue if such a project is undertaken.

"Montgomery County ran into every pitfall possible," he said.

He spoke to about 25 people at a monthly meeting of the waste-to-energy committee at the County Office Building in Westminster. The NMWDA has helped plan and finance similar facilities in Baltimore City and Harford County, he said.

The Carroll citizens committee is studying whether the county should build an incinerator to burn trash and generate electricity. The county, which has voluntary curbside recycling and operates two landfills, is looking for ways to reduce trash.

Montgomery County's trash-reduction efforts include curbside recycling and yard waste composting. The county has one landfill.

Mr. Gagliardo said Montgomery expects its waste-to-energy facility in Dickerson to open in 1995. The facility will burn only Montgomery trash, he said.

Although the NMWDA owns the facility, Montgomery will provide trash and a private vendor will run the incinerator, which will send electricity to Potomac Electric Power Co.

Montgomery County is a member of NMWDA, a group working to address trash problems regionally. Other members are Baltimore city and Baltimore and Harford counties.

Among the issues counties face in building waste-to-energy facilities, Mr. Gagliardo said, are concerns about the plant's location, air emissions, where trash will come from, how trash will be managed and building costs. Residents often worry that incineration will interfere with recycling efforts, too, he said.

During Mr. Gagliardo's nearly two-hour presentation, committee members asked questions on such issues as the amount of water and trash needed to run the facility.

He said plants can be built to accommodate the amount of trash a jurisdiction produces. He said the Montgomery facility will use about 1 million gallons of water a day.

Tom Beyard, committee co-chairman, expressed concerns about providing that much water in Carroll, which relies on ground water.

"That's an awful lot of water for this county," he said. "To say you use 1 million gallons boggles my mind."

The committee plans to tour a Lancaster, Pa., waste-to-energy plant June 17. The trip is open to 15 members of the public on a first-come basis. Bus transportation is free but the cost of lunch is $8.

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