Incinerator's expansion protested BALTIMORE CITY

September 04, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Carrying picket signs with skunks painted on them, environmental activists demonstrated in front of City Hall

yesterday afternoon to protest alleged "dirty dealings" of the owners of a medical-waste incinerator in South Baltimore.

Mary Rosso, president of the Glen Burnie-based Maryland Waste Coalition, and about 20 other members of environmental groups charged that Medical Waste Associates lied about its financial problems in the spring to win approval to widen its catchment area.

Ms. Rosso claimed that at the time the company was spending money to woo the Santa Rosa Band of Mission Indians to permit a medical incinerator on tribal land in Southern California.

"We're here to show our outrage," said Ms. Rosso.

Neil Ruther, vice president of Medical Waste, dismissed the charge as "based on out-and-out untruths."

Environmental groups say the incinerator increases pollution in South Baltimore and northern Anne Arundel County.

Initially, the Hawkins Point incinerator near the Anne Arundel County border was permitted to accept hospital refuse only from the city and from Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford counties. But the company insisted that it needed to expand its catchment area to survive.

In June, after a bitter fight, the City Council approved legislation permitting the incinerator, which can burn 150 tons of waste a day, to accept medical waste from Carroll, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

Yesterday, three council members vowed to introduce a bill Sept. 20, when the council reconvenes after summer recess, to rescind the expansion. Perry Skikas and John L. Cain, both D-1st, and Timothy D. Murphy, D-6th, said they would co-sponsor the measure.

Mr. Murphy has championed the fight against the incinerator, located in his district.

Marina Ortega, a member of California Indians for Cultural and Environmental Protection, said in a telephone interview yesterday that representatives of Medical Waste Associates had given presentations on the benefits of a incinerator to the Santa Rosa Indians. She said the representatives said they were from a "parent company" in Baltimore.

Mr. Ruther insisted that the California proposal was completely separate from the Baltimore operation. He said Medical Waste is not the parent company and that only three investors in the Baltimore firm are involved in the California project and on a very limited scale.

Company officials said that the company was on the verge of lTC bankruptcy in the spring and that unexpected construction costs made it necessary for them to take in more medical waste, or face the possibility of shutting down.

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