Regional compost facility reopened Management agency cites steps taken to control odors

April 10, 1996|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Environmental Service (MES) announced yesterday that it has reopened its Dorsey composting operation after taking steps to control odors from the facility, including installing an odor-neutralizing mist system that will be used in extreme cases.

Residents near the Dorsey Regional Composting Facility , which sits off U.S. 1 on Dorsey Run Road, have complained for months about odors from the 5-month-old operation wafting into their yards. The Maryland Department of the Environment cited the composting facility -- an operation that has served Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore counties since it opened in November -- 13 times for environmental violations. The facility was temporarily closed in February.

"There were some very rough times in the beginning," Patrick D. Carroll, operations manager for MES, said yesterday. "I think we're through that."

Howard County Councilman C. Vernon Gray has said the operation, which reopened last week, would have to be shut down permanently if the odors were not controlled. But other officials in the three jurisdictions have said they are committed to the composting facility and want to exhaust their options before deciding to close it.

"This is a site we really need to make work," Linda Fields, Howard County's recycling manager, said yesterday. "Composting is the future. It's a good recycling tool."

Yesterday, James W. Peck, director of MES, a quasi-public state environmental management agency, said the agency has made the following improvements to the site to make it a better neighbor and control odors:

Planted about 90 6- to 8-foot-tall Leland cypress trees as a buffer.

Erected netting around the debagging operation to control litter.

Reduced the height of the rows of compost -- called windrows, which often are responsible for the foul odors -- from about 12 feet to 8 feet.

Improved drainage around the windrows.

Added a misting system that sprays a product made from plant oils to neutralize odors.

MES officials said they don't believe the mist will be needed, but they wanted to take every precaution possible to put residents at ease.

"This is just a backup," Mr. Peck said. "We don't expect to have to use it. Everything seems to be going well."

Mr. Peck said MES also has started a newsletter to keep the community informed about the composting operation.

He said most of the problems at the site were the result of bad weather and hurried construction when the project was under development last fall.

At that time, Browning-Ferris Industries Inc. (BFI) was responsible for managing the project. But last month, MES took over management of the facility.

MES has completed construction at the site, and all that remains is work on a storm water management pond, which should be finished in the next week or two, Mr. Peck said.

The facility, paid for through a $5.9 million state bond, is expected to process 30,000 tons of yard waste each year. About 15,000 tons will come from Anne Arundel County and the remainder from Howard and Baltimore counties.

Since the facility reopened April 1, about 1,700 tons of yard waste have been processed.

Howard Councilman Gray said he has not received any complaints about the facility since the corrective measures were taken, but he remains concerned about future operations. "I'm going to monitor the situation," he said. "They assured me that they were going to take all the necessary steps. We'll see what happens."

Pub Date: 4/10/96

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