Council agrees on waste idea

April 11, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

County Council members haven't agreed on what to do with the county's trash for the long haul, but they do agree on what needs to be done now: Take it away -- far away.

"I'd like to see the landfill closed, even if it's something temporary," said Councilman Charles C. Feaga, a Republican representing west county and the Alpha Ridge Landfill's neighbors in Marriottsville.

Mr. Feaga and other council members heard yet another pitch Friday from Browning-Ferris Industries, which collects most of the county's trash and processes most of its recyclables.

Since 1992, the company has been trying to sell the county on the idea that, for a fee, it would ship the county's trash elsewhere.

During Friday's council work session, John L. Lininger, BFI's area marketing director, said the winning waste-shipping contract bids for the city of Rockville and Baltimore County were cheaper than estimates for other waste-disposal solutions.

BFI's competitor, Waste Management, bid $47 a ton for a 20-year contract to remove Rockville's waste, and $36 a ton for a 5-year contract with Baltimore County, according to Mr. Lininger and Howard County Public Works Director James M. Irvin.

At a council work session two weeks ago, Ogden Martin Systems Inc., which builds incinerators, estimated that it could dispose of the county's trash for a tipping fee close to the Alpha Ridge Landfill's current fee, $60 a ton.

BFI's pitch seems to have persuaded council members, who say the county should seek proposals for a temporary trash-shipping program until a long-term solution is adopted.

For trash shipping to work, the county would need a waste-transfer station, where trash picked up locally could be reloaded onto larger trucks for shipment.

BFI is seeking zoning board approval for a private waste-transfer station next to its recycling plant in Elkridge.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker had proposed building a public facility, but decided to postpone funding until the next fiscal year.

Mr. Ecker's proposed 10-year solid waste plan, which the council is expected to vote on May 2, proposes shipping trash out of the area temporarily until a cooperative regional plan can be worked out.

As its contribution to a regional plan, the county could accept yard waste and incinerator ash from other jurisdictions.

Paul R. Farragut, a west Columbia Democrat, and Darrel Drown, an Ellicott City Republican, support the regional approach. Shane Pendergrass, of the county's southeastern area, and Chairman C. Vernon Gray, of east Columbia, both Democrats, expressed doubts about efforts to cooperate with other Baltimore-area jurisdictions.

Ms. Pendergrass said that judging from the lack of agreement on the council, she had trouble believing the governing bodies of Baltimore and its neighbors could agree on what to do about their waste.

County Public Works Department officials said Baltimore and the surrounding counties have more reason to cooperate now.

Mr. Irvin, director of public works, said the jurisdictions in the metropolitan area are faced with closing their landfills in the next 10 or 15 years, and therefore must act soon to avoid building more landfills or expanding existing ones.

"This is the first time I have ever seen other jurisdictions really want to do this," he said.

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