A plant for burning garbage to create steam energy for Springfield Hospital Center is among the seven options for how Carroll, Howard, Frederick and Washington counties can join in a regional solid waste management plan.

The Carroll County Commissioners received yesterdaythe executive summary of what is often called the quad-county study,done by Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority in Baltimore.


The counties split the $300,000 cost of hiring the quasi-governmental agency, which presented a list of ways they could coordinate garbage handling.

Commissioners and county executives from all four counties will meet March 4 in Frederick. Time and location have not yet been announced, but the meeting will be public and likely will be conducted in the afternoon, said Christopher Skaggs of the Waste Authority.


"These are just study options," said James E. Slater, director of the county Department of Natural Resources Protection. "In making the decision to do anything, you have to entertain every possibility. It's up to the elected officials to get together on this and decide which counties will participate and then sit down and decide what to do."

Slater said the study is based on four counties participating, but the options could be implemented with just two.

The options all include recycling and yard-waste composting programs. The options are:

* Continue the current practice of individual county landfills and recycling centers.

Slater said that if Carroll opts for no change, it would need to start the licensing process for another landfill within four years. Carroll's two landfills have about 12 to 15 years' worth of space left.

However, the county can avoid havingto open another landfill if Carroll and the counties participate in a waste-to-energy plan, Slater said. He said Carroll could even mine existing landfills for recycleables and burnable waste.

* A regional landfill in eastern Frederick County.

* The regional landfill plus a refuse-derived fuel plant in Frederick County that would turn trash from the four counties into fuel pellets to be burned in cement kilns in Carroll, Frederick and Washington. Recycleables would be removed at the plant.


* A small-scale waste-to-energy incinerator at Springfield Hospital Center that would burn 250 tons of garbage a dayand sell the resulting electricity to Baltimore Gas and Electric sell to Springfield. Ash would be buried in a regional landfill in Frederick.

This option also calls for the refuse-derived fuel plant in Frederick County.

* The same plan, but with the incineratorat Maryland Correctional Institute in Hagerstown.

* A large-scalewaste-to-energy incinerator at Springfield burning 2,400 tons a day,with no refuse-derived fuel plant.

* The same plan, but at the prison in Hagerstown.

Building the incinerator would cost $33 million for a small one and $271 million for a large one, with annual operating costs of $3 million and $14 million, respectively. However, the incinerators would bring $1 million to $18 million in revenue.


Because the incinerators would make money, they could be private enterprises instead of public ones, Slater said. Even if the county governments build them, he said, there could be ways to bring in private partners.

To be worthwhile, the incinerators need to be next to a large user of steam energy, such as Springfield or the Hagerstown prison,Slater said. They also need a large water source, he said. Springfield is near the South Branch of the Patapsco River, which already is used for industry. Thus drinking-quality water would not be diverted.

"Selecting a site for something like this has to be done in a sensitive way," Slater said.