NSA boiler plan steams community

September 20, 1994|By Andrea Siegel | Andrea Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Members of the Seven Oaks community say they strongly object to the National Security Agency's plan to use a back-up boiler to heat a manufacturing and storage building.

The oil-burning boiler has been in a metal building next to NSA's processing laboratory at Fort Meade near Route 32 since 1991. It has been used intermittently during planned outages, NSA officials said. But they want to keep it hot all the time, and that requires a permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The plan has riled much of the community. "NSA has no regard for the local community," said Zoe Draughon, head of the community relations committee of the Seven Oaks Community Association.

She said there is nothing to prevent NSA from using the boiler 365 days a year and questioned the level of pollution that would be emitted from the boiler.

MDE will hold a public hearing to discuss the boiler plan at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Meade Heights Elementary School, 1300 Reese Road.

MDE spokeswoman Sandra Palmer said the boiler is approximately the size used to heat a middle school.

"They would plan to use it maybe 50 hours a year," she said.

In its laboratory, the top-secret agency manufactures microelectronic products that are sensitive to temperature and humidity change, according to NSA spokesman Stephen McAnallen. Keeping the boiler hot would prevent any break in the manufacturing schedule.

The boiler is not connected with NSA's earlier failed efforts to build a waste-to-energy incinerator, but the agency has been looking into "various approaches to obtain additional emergency back-up power and steam energy," Mr. McAnallen said.

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