An Anne Arundel official in charge of the county's two landfills and recycling programs will be relieved of his duties this morning, a Department of Utilities spokeswoman said.
Richard Waesche, chief of the county's Bureau of Solid Waste Management since the mid-1980s, will be reassigned to a non-management post within the Utilities Department's engineering division, said spokeswoman Jody Vollmar.
"We think Richard will be more productive in a position that more suits his abilities," Vollmar said.
Waesche's management of the landfills has come under increasing scrutiny since nearby residents began protesting the Millersville facility in March. Residents are upset by the discovery of cleaning solvents in ground water below the 567-acre site, as well as county plans to extend its life by 25 years.
Utilities Director Tom Neel said last month that Waesche, who had been concentrating his time on Millersville's expansion, had lost touch with the day-to-day operation of the landfill and the rest of the bureau.
Neel will inform the 62 bureau employees of the change this morning, Vollmar said.
"Whoever is responsible for the incompetence at the landfill should pay for it," said George Tabak, president of the Aurora Hills community association in Severn.
County Council Chairman David Boschert, a Crownsville Democrat whose district includes the landfill, said he is working to close immediately Millersville and South County's Sudley landfill. Changes in management are probably overdue, he said.
Waesche will continue to provide technical support to the solid waste bureau, Vollmar said. But, she added, his exact duties have not yet been defined.
"He will continue to update and review different reports on landfill and recycling issues, but not as an on-site manager," Vollmar said.
John Zolan, deputy director of the Utilities Department, will take over temporarily as chief of solid waste. Zolan, a mechanical engineer with a master's degree in administration, joined the Utilities Department two years ago.
Zolan's responsibilities as deputy director will be spread among departmental staff, Vollmar said.
County Executive Robert R. Neall shifted authority over the landfills from Public Works Director Parker Andrews to Utilities Director Neel on April 15, to begin addressing what he called a crisis in public confidence.
"Confidence is not something they are going to gain by one action or two actions in a three- to four-week period," Tabak said.