County weighs solutions to trash-disposal problems Alternatives include burning, composting, hauling it elsewhere

March 10, 1996|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

For six years, the County Commissioners have wrestled with how to handle the county's long-term needs for disposing of solid waste.

A Friday symposium on solid waste was intended to aid the commissioners and public works officials in deciding about the future of trash disposal in the county.

Both county landfills -- Northern, east of Westminster, and Hoods Mill, in Woodbine -- will be at capacity in 20 years.

"It's a forum to bring together those technologies that have been looked at and studied and let the commissioners, the community and county staff hear what they have to offer us and why we should select their technology," said Gary Horst, the county's deputy director of public works.

Symposium participants made presentations on the three trash-disposal methods under consideration by the commissioners: composting; burning, possibly for energy; and sending Carroll's trash out of the county.

Bedminster Bioconversion Corp. of Cherry Hill, N.J., has proposed building a $32 million composting plant at the Northern Landfill, which would use microbes to convert the county's organic trash and sludge into compost. The company operates composting plants in several states.

"Composting makes things grow; it's life itself," said Nelson E. Widell, Bedminster's executive vice president.

Mr. Widell said Bedminster's composting plants have effective odor controls and produce a high-quality compost that can be sold for agricultural and horticultural uses.

Depending on the method of financing a composting plant in Carroll, Mr. Widell said, tipping fees would be $43 to $46 a ton.

Robin Depot, executive director of the Northeast Maryland Solid Waste Authority, outlined the waste-to-energy or incineration method of waste disposal.

The authority is a regional quasi-governmental agency that helped finance the Baltimore Refuse Energy Systems Co. (BRESCO) plant in Southwest Baltimore, which disposes of solid waste for Baltimore and Baltimore County.

Ms. Depot said the waste-to-energy technology reduces the need for landfill space by 90 percent.

She couldn't provide a tipping fee for disposing of Carroll's solid waste at BRESCO but said the price would be competitive with other disposal methods.

The third option involves building a transfer station to serve as a consolidation point where the county's trash would be compacted. The waste then would be hauled to a landfill or other disposal site outside the county. Jim Stone, vice president of marketing for Houston-based Browning Ferris Industries, a trash-hauling company, said transfer stations are the least expensive and most reliable method of trash disposal.

"It's a proven technology and allows you to have flexibility about the final disposal site," Mr. Stone said.

He said the tipping fee for such an operation would be less than Carroll's current charge of $45 a ton.

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown is a strong supporter of Bedminster's composting method and has visited the company's plant in Sevierville, Tenn. on three occasions.

"Composting is the most natural, beneficial way of dealing with solid waste," he said.

Based on presentations at the symposium, Commissioner Richard T. Yates said he favors composting as a long-term solution to Carroll's waste disposal problems.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell, who has urged the county to build a waste-to-energy incinerator in the past, said he preferred composting as a disposal technology if Carroll's solid waste operation is located in the county.

The commissioners said they are awaiting the recommendations of a study of regional trash disposal, due in May, by the Northeast Maryland Solid Waste Authority before making a decision on Carroll's strategy.

Pub Date: 3/10/96

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