Citizen panel recommends incinerator

December 08, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

A citizen panel studying Anne Arundel County's future trash disposal alternatives has recommended construction of a waste-to-energy incinerator, either in the county, or jointly with a neighboring jurisdiction.

The incinerator was the centerpiece of a set of recommendations the committee presented yesterday to County Executive Robert R. Neall. The other recommendations included encouraging more recycling of trash and construction debris, composting and regular disposal of household hazardous waste.

A. Newth Morris III, chairman of the 13-member Solid Waste Commission, said the incinerator not only would save precious landfill space by reducing the county's volume of trash by 95 percent, but it would generate electricity, making money for the county.

The committee, formed in February to review a draft of the county's trash disposal plans for the next 20 years and make recommendations to the executive, said it would like to see the waste-to-energy facility operating by January 1996.

Mr. Morris noted that 10 years ago, Anne Arundel County decided not to use Baltimore's BRESCO incinerator, "and the net result is we're sitting here today and the clock is definitely ticking against us."

The county is recycling about 22 percent of the 565,560 tons of garbage that annually enters the waste stream, more than the state requires. But even with the composting of additional trash, more than 400,000 tons still must be deposited in the county's Millersville landfill.

The landfill is expected to reach capacity in 1997, but could be used until 2008 if a ninth cell is constructed, an expensive and controversial undertaking.

In the short run, using the landfill will cost less than the estimated $140 million it would cost to build the incinerator. But within 20 years, the cost of running the landfill and searching for another 500 acres for additional capacity would be double what it would cost to operate the incinerator, the committee found.

Mr. Morris acknowledged that there are environmental concerns with an incinerator, but said that the use of modern technology would help keep to a minimum the pollutants released into the atmosphere.

The committee did not discuss a site for the incinerator.

"They didn't ask us to do that," Mr. Morris said.

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