Union Bridge residents, concerned about plans by a cement plant in their town to burn carbon waste from New Jersey as a fuel supplement, are circulating a petition calling for Maryland to ban the import of out-of-state waste.
About 60 residents, who met Wednesday, hope to pressure Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the legislature to ban the practice and to stiffen state environmental standards.
The residents are fighting Lehigh Portland Cement Co., which has applied for two permits to burn carbon from waste filters and to burn solvent wastes at its western Carroll County cement plant. Both waste products would come from a chemical plant in New Jersey. The plan would enable Lehigh to save on the costs of coal that fuels its cement kilns.
"You have to stop it here" at Union Bridge, said Rachelle Hurwitz, a spokeswoman for a group of residents. Hurwitz and supporters say they don't trust Lehigh to monitor kiln emissions or to ensure that it is burning only those materials allowed under its permit.
Lehigh said that it can burn wastes safely. Everyone is responsible for consuming products that generate waste as they are manufactured, said plant manager David Roush, adding that Lehigh can destroy those wastes while saving fuel.
Although the group opposing the company includes two scientists, its leaders argued against waging a fight on solely scientific grounds because it said the company could tailor scientific analysis of its own to fit its permit.
Julian Stein said the group should try to beat the permit "emotionally and politically, if we can't beat them scientifically."