Bill proposes to limit use of BG&E's fly ash dump

March 23, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County Councilman Carl F. "Dutch" Holland and a group of Marley Neck residents have proposed a bill to limit how Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. uses its ash dump on the peninsula.

If enacted, the bill would cut by half the remaining seven years BG&E has on its 265-acre Brandon Woods Phase III site. BG&E says this would create a hardship.

BG&E has been using fly ash, a waste byproduct from its coal-fired generators at the Brandon Shores and Wagner Point power plants, to grade the 465-acre Brandon Woods area since 1982. It has developed Brandon Woods Phases I and II as industrial parks.

The bill was introduced to the council Monday night.

The Coalition of Communities and Citizens Against Fly Ash says county residents have been largely cut out of the process that regulates the land, which they say has become little more than a landfill for fly ash.

"This is the only way to address a situation that has become a landfill operation instead of an economic development situation," Councilman Holland said of the bill.

The utility says it is trying to work with the community and keep residents informed as it turns the land into an industrial park.

The bill proposes to change the zoning so public hearings would have to be held on the utility's attempts to get grading permits. It also would increase the buffer between the fill and the community, limit operations to weekdays, and restrict commercial uses of fly ash.

Initial calculations indicate the measure "at least reduces the capacity by 50 percent" said Glenn P. Nilsen, a coal ash management engineer with BG&E.

Fly ash has several uses, such as structural fill for parking lots. The state will be using it as a road bed near Easton.

Under the bill, any commercial use of fly ash would have to go through a special exception process, which B&GE claims is so cumbersome it would blunt the utility's fledgling efforts to market fly ash.

Activists say BG&E has not been forthcoming and has tried to take advantage of gaps in county law.

Last fall, BG&E tried to change its grading permit so it could create fly ash mounds on the land and extend the life of the ash fill. The move was withdrawn in the face of community opposition. Residents saw the attempt as a sign BG&E would not create the promised business center, which made the operation palatable. They also considered the move a betrayal of trust.

"We would develop it as a business park. The market may not be there for that land now. But that is our intention," said BG&E spokeswoman Peggy D. Mulloy. "It all depends on the real estate market."

Mary Rosso, coalition president, said the bill would ensure better environmental controls, such as mandating an 18-inch cover of topsoil. Councilman Holland said only 6 inches is mandated now. BG&E says it has been using at least 12 inches of topsoil cover and up to 24 inches.

The County Council has scheduled a hearing on the bill for 7:30 p.m. April 18 in Annapolis.

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