State labeled debris dump Glendening urges action to discourage rubble-fill operators

'Very serious problem'

Community activists lobby for clarification of Maryland policy

October 23, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Maryland has become a "dumping ground" for construction and demolition debris from other states, and officials must make the state less attractive to rubble-fill operators, Gov. Parris N. Glendening said yesterday after meeting with rubble-fill dump opponents.

"We do have a very serious problem. We're getting a large number of [applications] for new rubble fills or requests to expand existing rubble fills primarily to accommodate out-of-state waste," Glendening said. "Our best defense on this is leveling the economic playing field."

Costs for dumping here might be on the rise already now that the Maryland Department of the Environment is requiring costly liners and collection systems for contaminated runoff at new and expanding landfills.

But community activists don't want the facilities in their neighborhoods, complaining of pollution, truck traffic and unsightly piles of debris. Residents from Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties and the Eastern Shore met privately with Glendening yesterday to urge him to review MDE regulations and state laws that govern solid waste facilities and to put residents on a task force with state and county officials examining the issues.

They want the state to work with counties to tighten laws and clear up confusion over which agencies can bar new dumps or expansions.

"The problem with the whole thing is there is no clarity in there," Odenton resident Katharina DeHaas said of state laws that require counties to write solid waste management plans. Rubble fills and other solid waste facilities must be included in the plans before MDE will issue permits for them, but Anne Arundel County ran into trouble in court after the County Council struck a proposed rubble fill from its plan three years ago.

Glendening agreed with residents yesterday that there is confusion over who can properly block rubble fills from opening. The meeting, planned since last week, came after the Anne Arundel County Council again struck a controversial proposed rubble landfill from the solid waste management plan on Monday and two weeks after MDE began looking into questions of discrimination on where the dumps are located.

In Anne Arundel, Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr. ordered the council this year to restore a proposed rubble fill it had struck from its solid waste management plan in 1994.

The council voted again this week to remove Chesapeake Terrace, a proposed rubble fill in Odenton, from the draft plan because the county does not need it, council members said.

The issue is a thorny one because courts have routinely struck down measures that bar or restrict rubble fills, holding they restrict interstate commerce.

Concerns over imported waste in Maryland might be unfounded, according to Pamela S. Metz, executive director of the Maryland-Delaware Solid Waste Association, which represents waste haulers and landfill operators. The amount of waste being brought to Maryland is decreasing, and rubble fills on the Eastern Shore no longer accept debris from outside the state, she said. And with new requirements for liners and runoff collection systems that went into effect last month, MDE has already leveled the economic playing field, Metz said.

"Liner requirements will dramatically increase the cost of disposal in Maryland," she said yesterday.

Environmentalists and rubble fill opponents had criticized the Glendening administration for backing down on the requirements, but in September, MDE finalized the new regulations. Existing facilities will have to add liners and leachate collection systems by 2001 or close.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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