Waste panel: A waste of time? Incinerator permit likely won't get OK, engineers say

November 02, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Carroll County's waste-to-energy committee may have spent the past 10 months studying a moot question: Whether the county should build an incinerator that couldn't be built.

"Even if you wish to build this plant, you might never get it permitted," Farhad Memarzadeh, an engineer with the National Institutes of Health, told the committee yesterday.

Jack Ross, a consulting engineer with Ross Murphy Finkelstein Inc. of Baltimore, agreed that "there is a very good chance" that state and federal air quality officials would not give Carroll County a permit for an incinerator.

The county commissioners appointed a 23-member citizens committee in January to study whether the county should build a trash-burning incinerator that would generate electricity.

The commissioners charged the committee with examining environmental, legal and regulatory issues related to incinerators and landfills. But the commissioners have not determined whether it would be possible to get the required permits for an incinerator if the study committee recommends building one.

Incinerators add pollutants to the air, and air quality in the Baltimore region falls below EPA standards, the engineers said.

Mr. Memarzadeh said the county's chances of getting a permit probably would depend on how many tons of specific pollutants a local incinerator would add to the air.

Mr. Memarzadeh said that the Clean Air Act of 1990 put pressure on Maryland to clean up its air, so standards have been tightened. An incineration proposal that would have won a permit three years ago "might not be permitted today," he said.

Mr. Ross offered to submit an outline to the committee on how he thinks the panel should proceed. He said the committee may want a preliminary study on whether waste-to-energy, composting, landfills or a combination of methods would be the best way for Carroll County to dispose of its trash.

One committee member, C. Melvin Schneider of Sykesville, argued that the committee shouldn't worry about whether Carroll County could get a permit to build an incinerator.

If the committee recommends an incinerator and the commissioners agree, "There are industries that build these plants. You could get proposals from them," he said. "You could get study after study at no cost in order to build this plant."

If studies showed an incinerator is not possible, the county would be back to the starting point, Mr. Schneider acknowledged, but would not have spent any money to obtain the advice.

The engineers spoke to the committee yesterday on the recommendation of an interested citizen.

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