Mayors want action on trash, but commissioners won't be rushed

November 05, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Hurry up, already, and make a decision about what to do with Carroll's trash, county mayors told the commissioners yesterday.

"We're really calling for action," Sykesville Mayor Kenneth W. Clark said at the mayors' quarterly meeting with officials at the County Office Building.

"All the factors seem to indicate the decision shouldn't be that difficult to make," said Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown.

The mayors of Carroll's eight towns voted unanimously Tuesday that the county should collect residents' trash and adopt a composting system to recycle the garbage, Mr. Brown said.

Currently, residents who live outside towns contract with individual haulers. The commissioners are looking for alternatives putting refuse in landfills because county landfills are expected to be filled in 14 years.

Carroll officials and various citizens groups have been studying the issue for several years, Mr. Brown said. The commissioners should be able to make a decision in three months, he said.

No way, Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy responded. They want to take their time with a multimillion-dollar decision that will apply for decades to come.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge was in Annapolis yesterday morning and did not attend the meeting.

"This is not something we decide overnight," Mr. Dell said.

"We are right to be cautious," Mr. Lippy said. "You are right we have to make a decision. But to say composting is the right decision, I'm not convinced. I may be later on."

Mr. Brown said the most recent citizens committee -- the Waste-to-Energy Committee -- has spent too much time studying the issue. The commissioners appointed the 23-member panel in January and gave it until June 1994 to make a report.

Committee Chairman Lloyd R. Helt Jr. said the group does not want to be rushed.

"It's always very easy to criticize a volunteer committee," he said in a phone interview yesterday.

"It's a very complex field with a lot of things to look at. The committee is resistant to giving an earlier report."

Mr. Dell said the committee has gone beyond its charge. It was told to

investigate whether Carroll should build an incinerator to burn trash to generate electricity.

But the group has studied other alternatives, including composting, which has been beneficial and has added to the debate, he said.

Mayor Brown said the county should use a composting process developed by Bedminster Bioconversion Corp. of Cherry Hill, N.J. He and Mr. Dell have toured a Bedminster plant in Sevier County, Tenn.

Composting is cheaper than incineration and safer environmentally, Mr. Brown said.

To be fair, the mayor suggested that the county ask incinerator and composting companies to submit proposals so officials get a better idea about specific costs, he said.

Mr. Dell said that should be done after the Waste-to-Energy Committee finishes its work. He said he's most interested in the tipping fee for each process because that is what residents would pay.

LTC Mr. Lippy said he opposes building an incinerator because it would be expensive. He said he's impressed by the Bedminster composting process, but is concerned about heavy metals that might be left in the compost.

"To say all the environmental sins are on the incineration side is just not true," Mr. Lippy said.

"With technology improving and changing every day, maybe now is the time to be a little hesitant."

Mr. Helt said the Waste-to-Energy Committee probably will recommend that the county hire an engineering company to compare incineration and composting and analyze what state and federal regulations would apply to each process.

A National Institutes of Health engineer said this week that state and federal air-quality regulations might prohibit an incinerator in Carroll.

Mr. Helt said the committee probably will recommend that recycling be mandatory countywide and that Carroll join a regional effort to dispose of waste.

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