Marley Neck's, BGE's common ground

June 07, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and a citizens coalition have reached agreement on noise levels and operating hours in a bill that would more tightly regulate the utility's Marley Neck fly ash fill.

But on two other key issues -- the fly ash landfill's capacity and whether the entire property must be surrounded by a 200-foot buffer -- they remain at odds.

BGE wants the County Council bill changed so the buffer would not be required where the fill abuts right-of-way or industrial property, and it wants to be permitted an average depth of 20 1/2 feet of ash.

"We're just as far apart as we have been from the beginning," said Carl Hackman, a spokesman for the Coalition of Communities and Citizens Against Fly Ash, after testifying at a council public hearing on the bill last night.

The power company is seeking amendments to the bill, which if not passed could threaten the feasibility of the fly ash fill that they say is essential to operations at their Brandon Shores and Wagner Point power plants. Fly ash is a waste byproduct from the coal-fired generators at those plants.

After filling two earlier sections of its fly ash fill, BGE has used the land to build its Brandon Woods Business Park -- which would be expanded once this third section is filled.

Dan S. Keys Jr., a member of the coalition, urged the council to pass the legislation, along with the two compromise amendments -- and not make the other changes sought by BGE.

He showed slides of the Solley Road corridor that runs by the ash fill that featured a local school, churches and homes with picket fences. "As you can see, Solley Road is still a rural community," he said.

In contrast, the ash fill "resembles a moonscape that is devoid of vegetation and habitat," he said. "That's why we ask that you, the council, pass a meaningful bill that will give us back our community," Mr. Keys said.

Edwin Lechowicz, a Glen Burnie attorney who represents BGE on land-use matters, told the council during the hearing that the fly ash fill, since its opening in 1981, has been regulated by a county law that governs grading permits. The law permitting the use of fly ash as structural fill material was passed to address an important need to dispose of the byproduct of energy production.

"That's a very important need," he said. "It's not just the need for a corporation. It's a public need."

Mr. Lechowicz warned that if the bill were passed as written, "it so restricts [the ash fill operation] as to make it nonexistent. It would be economically unfeasible. It would be as a practical matter unfeasible."

Glen Nielsen, a BGE engineer who oversees the ash fill, told the council that he was exploring alternatives to structural filling of the ash, such as sending it back to the mine from which the coal was taken. "That technology hasn't been fully developed," he said.

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