Neighbors delay proposed ninth cell at Millersville landfill

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

Two neighbors of the Millersville landfill have temporarily blocked Anne Arundel County's efforts to open a ninth cell and obtain a state operating permit by asking for a hearing on the county's permit application.

Robert McKay, who lives on the southern side of the landfill, filed a 20-page hearing request last week, and Michael Maszczenski, whose property abuts the northern side, filed a similar request Monday.

The Maryland Department of the Environment had planned to issued the permits today, but now must evaluate the complaints and decide whether to hold hearings, which would not take place until next year, said MDE spokeswoman Sandra Palmer.

The 567-acre landfill has been operating for two years under MDE orders to comply with environmental laws.

"The past performance of Anne Arundel County has shown to me that it can't be trusted," said Mr. McKay, who built his house in 1981. "I'm not necessarily trying to close the landfill down. I'd like them to run it according to the rules."

The landfill has had a troubled history nearly from its inception in 1974. Recently, county officials were cited for operating without a state permit.

In addition, operators illegally heaped trash between several garbage cells and built another pile of trash, dubbed "Mount Trashmore," several stories higher than allowed.

Mr. McKay's request to state environmental officials cites several of the problems, notes that the county has failed repeatedly to meet MDE deadlines, and complains that MDE did not get tough with the county.

Mr. Maszczenski, who bought his 7 1/2 -acre lot in 1953, nearly two decades before the landfill site was chosen, complained that storm water runs from the landfill onto his property.

"I wouldn't want to grow anything to eat in that ground," he said.

He has alleged that polluted runoff after rains killed his livestock and that it poisoned his well.

Last year, the county dug him a 207-foot-deep well to replace a 62-foot-deep well that had been polluted.

The county was unable to determine where the pollutants were coming from, said Lisa Ritter, department spokeswoman.

"We've said mea culpa," Ms. Ritter said. "Unfortunately, this administration cannot rectify errors of the past. We can't change those things. We recognize that those are certainly concerns for the citizenry, and they affect the department."

"We are a much better neighbor now than we were in 1992," said James Pittman, a former MDE official who took over the county's solid waste management a little over a year ago.

Over the past two years, the county has spent $27.1 million to correct problems at the landfill.

The county estimates that it will spend another $87 million by the end of the decade.

About 1,100 tons of trash a day go into the landfill, and county officials said the ninth cell and stepped-up recycling would allow it to be used until 2008.

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