Council members' landfill votes poison county's future


Drown, Farragut and Pendergrass. These names will become immortalized on the tomb of Howard County's waste disposal policy, which has now been cast in the ground under a small community in the heart of Howard County.

These three alleged representatives of Howard County acted despicably. All they really do represent is the total lack of integrity that Howard County's government seems destined to perpetuate.

These three County Council members voted to force through hastily worded legislation to allow a project to expand the Alpha Ridge Landfill at the very time this county needs to look for new alternatives for waste disposal. And at the very time Alpha Ridge is shaping up to become the worst toxic waste disaster in Maryland's history.

Remember these names. Drown, Farragut and Pendergrass. They made a decision to vote in the face of sanity, reason and understanding. They were presented with a Planning Board recommendation stronger than any we have seen to throw out the project to expand the Alpha Ridge Landfill. The Planning Board and residents across the county said to look at the alternatives: no new landfills, an effective county-wide recycling program, source-reduction, yard-waste composting, limited incineration, toxic household waste collection, and user education on waste disposal. The recently appointed Solid Waste Task Force will make a recommendation later this year to start what would have been a bold new chapter in Howard's waste management program.

Instead of voting to point Howard County into the new century, when environmental contamination will be the single most important issue, and instead of directing Howard County to becoming a bold example of how the problems of waste management can be tackled, Drown, Farragut, and Pendergrass voted to set Howard County tumbling back decades and perpetuate the policy of "storing" waste in the ground instead of disposing of it.

All this will do is put off for another five years what must ultimately be done -- implementing policies that avoid dumping our ever-increasingly toxic waste in Howard's pristine earth.

Howard countians, rise up and tell these so-called representatives we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore! We're sick and tired of mindless avoidance policies on an issue that's going to destroy our county. No more landfills, anywhere in the county. We can do a lot better. And we can do a lot better than Drown, Farragut and Pendergrass.

And remember one last name. Ecker. He was the insidious grandmaster of the project, and he hides behind the pawns who implemented it. He is ultimately responsible for it and he will ultimately suffer the most for its consequences.

(Dr. Donald L. Gill lives in Marriottsville and helped organize a neighborhood protest against expansion of the landfill.)

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