Residents turn up noses at garbage station proposal

October 11, 1994|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,Sun Staff Writer

An Annapolis-based commercial trash hauler wants to set up a garbage transfer station in Halethorpe, and residents of the working-class Baltimore County community don't like it.

"It's going to stink. . . . It scares . . . me, thinking it's going to be across the street from me," said Allan Bennett, who lives near the 7-acre site owned by Eastern Waste Industries in the 1900 block of Halethorpe Farms Road.

Eastern, which has used the site for storing materials, filed for state and county permits last month to turn it into a transfer station.

If the permits are approved, the transfer station could open by the middle of next summer. About 20 workers would receive from 20 to 40 trucks a day onto the floor of an existing building, which would be renovated and ventilated. They would remove recyclable materials, compact and weigh the trash, and then transfer it to trailers. The trash would come from the company's commercial clients in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties.

Eric J. Benzer, Eastern's public affairs director, said garbage would not be left overnight in Halethorpe, an industrial community near the Anne Arundel County line. The transfer station would be used between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the process would take about 30 minutes per truck, he said.

Halethorpe Civic Association President Donald Hawkins took an impromptu poll of about 60 residents at the group's monthly meeting last week after Mr. Benzer outlined the plans. When Mr. Hawkins asked who favored the transfer station, there was silence. When he asked who opposed it, all hands went up.

Residents said the operation would increase traffic and create odors in a community that needs more retail stores, not a garbage facility. They also expressed fears that hazardous waste could be mingled in the garbage. Mr. Hawkins said about 1,000 of the community's 4,000 homes would be affected by any odors the transfer station produces.

Mr. Benzer conceded that he did not expect a welcoming committee from the community, but he assured residents that Eastern's permits would not allow hazardous waste.

Residents said they doubted that a truck could be processed in half an hour and feared that some trash would remain overnight.

"We want our trash to come to Halethorpe for a half-hour," Mr. Benzer replied. "We don't want it to spend the night here; we don't want it to spend the day here."

In September, Eastern applied for permits with the Baltimore County Fire, Zoning, Environmental Protection and Public Works departments, and with the Maryland Department of the rTC Environment. The company expects decisions within three to six months.

Earlier this year, six former Eastern officials were sentenced to jail terms in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, and the company was fined $4.5 million on a variety of mail fraud counts stemming from an overbilling scheme that occurred between 1987 and 1992.

Mr. Benzer said the scheme was in place before the company was bought out in 1988 by Attwoods PLC, a British firm that has acquired a number of U.S. waste disposal firms, several of which have been in legal trouble.

"Previous managers of Eastern have been terminated and dealt with by the Department of Justice," Mr. Benzer said.

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