Something smells rotten in Dorsey Vandalism is no way to stop stench at the composting yard.

June 21, 1996

NEWS THAT VANDALISM on June 11 shut down Maryland Environmental Service's yard-waste composting plant in Dorsey is most distressing. It's another example of the increasingly popular notion that the way to deal with difficult problems is to take matters into your own hands by destroying property or assaulting people.

In recent years, we have witnessed animal protection organizations periodically break into research laboratories to "liberate" animals and in the process destroy millions of dollars of painstaking research.

In the Pacific Northwest, radical environmentalists opposed to logging of old growth timber have driven metal spikes into the trunks of these trees. When loggers using high-powered chain saws hit these spikes, they become lethal weapons.

The residents who live near the 56-acre composting plant have good reason to be extremely angry. Operated by MES, the yard-waste composting plant is located in Howard County just over the Anne Arundel line, in the middle of a residential area. Due to poor planning, some residents of Lennox Park live within 100 yards of the plant, which should have been located on a more isolated site. Not only do they hear the noise of the machinery at the composting yard, but noxious odors besiege their yards and houses. Children can't play outdoors without retching and people with allergies have to flee.

Yet by throwing rock salt and hydraulic fluid into the machinery that opens bags of yard waste and another machine that is used to turn the rotting piles of leaves and grass clippings, the vandals may actually have worsened the problem: The vandals destroyed the very pieces of equipment needed to reduce the buildup of noxious gases.

It is too late to relocate the plant, which Browning-Ferris Industries Inc. operated until this spring. After BFI mismanaged the composting operation, MES took over the plant but has had no better luck reducing the odor.

Despite hundreds of complaints to the Maryland Department of the Environment, residents are still besieged. Placating them with empty talk won't work. Vandalizing equipment won't solve the problem, either. MES should develop an effective plan to eliminate this stench once and for all.

Pub date: 06/21/96

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