Burning trash still an option

January 27, 1995|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Two of the three Carroll County Commissioners say they continue to consider incineration an option for getting rid of the county's trash, even though a citizens committee recommended against it last summer.

The commissioners took a step toward deciding on future trash disposal methods, voting unanimously Tuesday to ask composting and incineration companies to submit details about how they would operate in Carroll.

"Every company that's out there is going to get a fair shot at making a proposal," Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said.

He is adamant that incineration should not be an option in Carroll.

"It should be put to bed. Commissioner [Donald I.] Dell is not prepared to say that," Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Dell, the only incumbent on the board, has been interested in waste-to-energy plants for several years. The plants burn trash to generate electricity.

"It's a viable option regionally. Once they're established, they look like a college campus," he said.

Commissioner Richard T. Yates said, "I lean more toward composting because I think it's cleaner, but I have some reservations."

Composting garbage and sewage sludge would produce a fertilizer product.

Mr. Yates said he would not want to build an incinerator in Carroll, but that it would be OK to ship the county's trash elsewhere to be burned.

"Both options are great if we don't have to fill up our landfills so quickly," Mr. Yates said.

Officials must find an alternative to burying trash in landfills because the county has about a dozen years left on its one operating landfill off Route 140 near Westminster.

Lloyd R. Helt Jr. of Westminster, who chaired the citizens committee that studied the issue, said, "I can't be upset that they're exploring all options. It doesn't cost anything to get a bid.

"I am glad they're moving on it. I hope they're taking our report into consideration," he said.

But Mr. Dell said he is not.

"I wasn't happy with that report. I feel they didn't pursue the charge as far as I wanted them to go," he said.

The previous board of commissioners appointed 25 residents to the Waste-to-Energy Committee in January 1993. The group visited two waste-to-energy facilities, a yard waste composting facility and a municipal waste composting facility.

Members also heard testimony from various experts and read published materials.

Their June report recommended against building an incinerator because it would be expensive and could cause environmental problems. It said the county should increase recycling efforts and build a municipal waste composting facility.

Mr. Dell said he cannot rule out an incinerator.

"I haven't heard anything yet to make me change my mind. I have faith in the industry, inspections and permits that allow a waste-to-energy plant to happen," he said.

But, Mr. Dell added, "I'm not going to be that resistant to composting."

He said his concern about the process is whether food processing companies and wholesalers will accept food grown on land where compost from the waste facility has been used as fertilizer.

Chemicals and metals in the compost also could get into the milk of cows fed grain grown on fertilized land, said Mr. Dell, a dairy and grain farmer.

Yesterday, Carroll and Frederick officials heard a presentation about one composting process Carroll County is considering. Paul T. Hoyle, vice president of sales and marketing at Bedminster Bioconversion Corp. in Cherry Hill, N.J., explained how his company composts municipal garbage and sewage sludge.

The meeting at the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Hall is an annual event and was organized by Mount Airy Mayor Gerald R. Johnson. About 50 people attended.

Mr. Yates said he would like to see the Bedminster plant for himself.

"It looks too good to be true. That's why I have questions about it," he said.

Mr. Yates said he would be concerned about whether the county could sell the compost it produced.

Mayor Johnson urged commissioners from both counties to make a decision about garbage. The towns cannot continue to pay landfill tipping fees that increase, he said.

"We have repeatedly asked the commissioners to address the solid waste problem. There have been enough studies," he said.

Mr. Johnson said he invited the Bedminster employee to speak at the meeting. The Waste-to-Energy Committee and many Carroll officials visited a Bedminster plant in Sevier County, Tenn., last year at Mr. Brown's urging.

Mr. Dell bristled at Mr. Johnson's statement that the commissioners have not addressed the garbage issue. "That kind of attitude is not a cooperative attitude, and we need a cooperative attitude," Mr. Dell said. "It just isn't something you do in six months."

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