Jessup plant is cited for compost odors

February 15, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The new yard-waste composting plant in Jessup near the Anne Arundel County line has been cited by state environmental officials 10 times in the past three weeks for generating sickening smells.

The latest violation notice was issued yesterday -- only hours before the regional plant's operator met at the Jessup site with Anne Arundel County officials and promised that the situation would improve. The plant, which is used by Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore counties, is operated by Maryland Environmental Service, a quasi-public company.

Notices from the Maryland Department of the Environment refer to odors wafting from the plant to adjacent neighborhoods in both Howard and Anne Arundel counties.

Some residents of Anne Arundel's Dorsey community say that in recent weeks the stench from rotting leaves has caused them and their pets to vomit. Some homeowners stuff towels under their doors to keep out the smell.

"All these violations are doing nothing for my health and for my family," said Sharon Wieland, a resident of Ohio Avenue in Dorsey who suffers from asthma. "This place is slowly killing me."

The state's notices refer to a strong, musty smell that causes eyes to itch and burn, headaches, respiratory discomfort and nausea.

At the Anne Arundel County Council meeting Tuesday, representatives of Maryland Environmental Service and other officials are to respond to complaints. The community is promising a standing room only turnout for the session.

James Peck, Maryland Environmental Service director, said the smell was caused by not having the site ready in time for fall leaf season. Mounds of leaves several stories high trapped odors, which were released as the decomposing leaves were moved into long rows for composting, he said.

"We believe all those problems are in the past and we can now operate the site as it should be," said Mr. Peck.

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