Carroll County's major trash recycler is planning to remove ash from an old pit on its property that is leaching lead into the North Branch of the Patapsco River.
The county Environmental Affairs Advisory Board (EAAB) agreed yesterday to schedule a special hearing in about two weeks for Phoenix Recycling Inc. The company is seeking a variance from county forest ordinance requirements as part of its plan to dig out coal ash from an old ash fill.
"If we're an environmental committee, the sooner it's out of there, the better for us," said EAAB board member Georgia Hoff, arguing for a special hearing to consider the variance.
Neither Phoenix nor its consultant, Rust Environment and Infrastructure of Bensalem, Pa., sent representatives to yesterday's EAAB meeting. No one could be reached at either company for comment.
James Slater, county environmental office administrator, said the pit contains about 800 tons of ash from coal burned by Congoleum Industries, a floor-covering manufacturer that occupied the site before Phoenix. He said Phoenix is not under orders from any local or state agency to remove the ash, but wants to get rid of it because it is leaching metals, including lead, into the stream.
"It's right upstream from the [Liberty] reservoir," so the removal has broader implications than just Carroll County, Mr. Slater said.
The forest conservation ordinance is applicable because Phoenix will disturb more than 1 acre of ground to remove the ash.
Neil Ridgely, county forest conservation program manager, said that if no variance is granted, Phoenix could be required to plant 3 acres of trees.
Mr. Slater said the recycling corporation plans to take the ash to a landfill in York County, Pa.
Charles L. Zeleski, assistant director of environmental health with the county health department, said the recycler had no obligation to notify the health department about the contents of the ash pit.
"They discovered it on their own, they're removing it on their own, and they don't need any permits from us," he said.