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Soil solution


Since last year, Rosedale residents have vehemently opposed the planned construction of a "soil recycling" plant in their area. The $5 million facility, to be built by Bryn Awel Corp. of Towson, would "cook" gasoline-tainted dirt recovered from beneath gas stations. Bryn Awel, a pavement manufacturer, would use the recycled soil to make asphalt.

The Rosedale residents' anger is not hard to understand. They say they already have too many polluting facilities in their area, such as the Pulaski Highway incinerator and the Back River sewage plant. They also cite a Johns Hopkins University scientist's study, which they commissioned, claiming that the plant will emit more cancer-causing benzene than Bryn Awel has acknowledged.

State officials will have to decide whether to issue a permit for the plant. To date, they have backed Bryn Awel by contending that the plant would pose no more of a threat than would a gas station. If this contention is confirmed by the state's study of all the materials pertaining to the proposal, then the permit should be issued. The plant, after all, would go into an area heavily industrialized for much of this century. Also, a federal mandate to replace the thousands of leaking underground fuel tanks in the United States has created the necessity to do something with all the tainted dirt that will be removed. Capping landfills with the dirt provides one solution. Soil recycling plants, properly run and regulated, offer another.

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