Delegates reject city's bill to ban incinerators Move is victory for owner of Pulaski facility

Senate measure is pending

March 27, 1996|By Thomas W. Waldron and C. Fraser Smith | Thomas W. Waldron and C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Robert Guy Matthews contributed to this article.

In a victory for Pulaski Highway incinerator owner Willard J. Hackerman, a House of Delegates committee yesterday rejected a bill that would have allowed Baltimore to ban new trash-burning facilities.

The vote by the House Environmental Matters Committee all but kills the bill for the remainder of the legislature's 90-day session, with proponents pinning hopes on a Senate bill that is pending.

"I'm very disappointed," said Del. Peter A. Hammen, a Baltimore Democrat and a co-sponsor of the bill. "This opens the door to having another incinerator in Baltimore City bringing in trash from the entire East Coast."

The House bill, sponsored by the three delegates whose district includes the Pulaski incinerator, would have given the city authority to ban the building or modification of incinerators.

The measure would have nullified a January decision in Baltimore County Circuit Court that held that state law does not permit the city to impose the ban.

The measure received only 10 votes in the Environmental Matters Committee, two short of the number needed to approve it. Nine delegates voted against the bill and two were absent.

The bill was strongly opposed by Mr. Hackerman, owner of the Pulaski incinerator and of Whiting-Turner Construction Co. Lobbyist James J. Doyle called a ban shortsighted.

Baltimore Democratic Sen. Perry Sfikas, sponsor of the Senate measure, claimed that Mr. Hackerman wants to build a $300 million East Baltimore "mega-incinerator," large enough to handle trash from across the region. It will disrupt neighborhoods and will add to the city's air and water pollution, he said.

But Mr. Doyle said Mr. Hackerman "never really got to the point where he finalized what he would do at the Pulaski site. He intended to retrofit it with state-of-the-art technology and turn it into a waste-burning, energy-producing operation."

Mr. Doyle added, "Whatever he does would have to comport with all laws and regulations."

Mr. Hackerman bought the Pulaski incinerator from the city in 1981. The plant closed in August because the cost of retrofitting it to meet environmental standards would have been about $60 rTC million. Though Mr. Sfikas said the city's disposal needs are covered under its contract with a resource recovery and energy generating company, Mr. Doyle disagreed that it has sufficient disposal capacity for the long run.

"The solid waste stream gets longer every year," he said. "This effort by the city undercuts the 10-year waste disposal plan which included Pulaski."

During committee deliberations, Del. J. Anita Stup, a Frederick County Republican, said the issue was less trash capacity than one of governmental authority.

"The issue is whether local government has the authority to prohibit incinerators. I will proffer they do not," she said.

Democratic Del. Tony E. Fulton was the only Baltimore representative on the committee to vote against the bill.

"This is not good public policy to have local jurisdictions decide something as broad and encompassing as this bill," Mr. Fulton said. "If we do it in Baltimore City, other jurisdictions will do it. I know we face problems with one particular incinerator but we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water."

The Baltimore City Council voted for a moratorium in 1992. Mr. Hackerman sued the city in June and, on Jan. 5, the moratorium was overturned. The city has appealed the ruling.

The judge in Baltimore County, where Mr. Hackerman's company is based, concluded that the moratorium improperly usurps the state's authority to regulate incinerator construction.

Pub Date: 3/27/96

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