Several private companies seek chance to take out Howard's garbage Trash collectors tout jobs, benefits

October 15, 1993|By James M. Coram and Erik Nelson | James M. Coram and Erik Nelson,Staff Writers

If you want to take out Howard County's garbage, take a number.

The County Council yesterday heard a sales pitch from yet another private corporation seeking to end the county's trash problems for a fee.

Ogden Projects Inc., a subsidiary of New York-based Ogden Corp., told the council that the trash-burning power plant it proposes to build in Carroll County to convert trash to energy would have "enormous economic and environmental benefits" over other private solutions.

Ogden's proposal, which will be considered along with other options by a Carroll County advisory committee into next year, involves building a 1,500- ton-per-day, waste-to-energy plant that would serve several jurisdictions.

Ogden representative John Joyner told the council that construction alone would lead to more than 650 jobs and a $50 million payroll over a two- to three-year period. Once the plant is in operation, it would employ approximately 45 people and would pay out more than $110 million in salaries over 25 years, Mr. Joyner said.

The company also would have purchases of $89 million in goods, services, fuel and utilities during the next 25 years, and would provide more than $600 million in economic benefit to the area, he said. The energy produced from the conversion would avoid an oil depletion of more than 17 million barrels of foreign oil, Mr. Joyner told the council.

If Howard County shared the facility, Howard and Carroll together would supply half of the waste converted to energy. A company-commissioned survey indicated that more than 60 percent of Carroll County voters favored incineration over other forms of waste disposal.

Browning-Ferris Industries, the nation's second-largest waste company, started the trash rush in August 1992 with an informal offer to handle all of the county's trash for 20 or 30 years. The company said it could, through contractors and its own facilities elsewhere, recycle, burn, compost or landfill it out of state.

Later, Waste Management, the nation's largest waste company, made presentations to county officials touting its multiple methods of dealing with trash.

Pittsburgh-based Chambers Development Co., which owns regional landfills in Maryland and neighboring states, also has made a pitch for the county's trash business.

The Ogden plan fits into the state Northeast Regional Waste Disposal Authority's plans to get Baltimore-area counties to collaborate on waste management.

The authority's executive director, Michael Gagliardo, told the council that by participating in regional solutions to solid waste disposal, the county could extend the life of the Alpha Ridge landfill to the year 2058. Without such a plan, the county estimates that space in the landfill will be used up by 2008.

After the Ogden presentation yesterday, County Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st District, said she would like to see Ogden and Houston-based BFI appear together before the council to debate the merits of their proposals.

Executives at the Browning Ferris divisional office welcomed the chance to face Ogden head to head, saying they felt that having Mr. Joyner and Mr. Gagliardo at the same meeting gave Ogden an unfair advantage.

"We find it inappropriate to not have included in the presentation a superior and less expensive solution," said Kenneth Wishnick, divisional vice president.

John O'Hara, chief of the county's Bureau of Environmental Services, said that although the corporations are already battling for the county's business, "there have been no formal proposals with specific guarantees. That would not happen unless we solicited proposals."

The county won't solicit proposals until after its state-mandated 10-year solid waste plan is approved by the County Council and by the Maryland Department of the Environment. Mr. O'Hara said he expects to see a draft of the plan in about two weeks.

Browning Ferris already has won a number of county waste contracts, including several to provide trash and curbside recycling collection. Wednesday, the Public Works Department awarded Browning Ferris a one-year contract for yard waste recycling.

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