Waste panel members promise 'open minds'

THE BALTIMORE SUN

In Carroll, trash is becoming a burning issue. To find the bes way to dispose of it, the commissioners have asked 23 people to study whether the county should build an incinerator to burn waste and generate electricity.

The commissioners appointed a Waste-to-Energy Committee in January to study the issue for 18 months. They wanted a group with varied experience and different viewpoints. Committee members are engineers, environmentalists, lawyers, politicians and business owners.

Like other jurisdictions, Carroll is looking for alternatives to costly landfills. The county's two landfills -- Northern and Hoods Mill -- will be filled within 15 years, and land is becoming scarce for new ones.

Most members said it's too early to know whether Carroll should build an incinerator. Most committee members agreed the group is balanced; those who think it's not disagreed on the direction of bias.

Member Arthur Peck, a retired Westminster veterinarian, said the group seems biased against incinerators. Some members "seem be convinced the best thing is to dig another hole in the ground and monitor another 140 years," he said.

Jacob M. Yingling of Westminster said the group seems biased toward incinerators.

"It seems to me many committee members have a vested interest," he said.

One member works for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which could buy power generated at the plant; another member sells bonds, which could finance the project; another works for a waste-hauling company.

Former Sykesville Mayor Lloyd W. Helt is chairman of the committee. He wants the group to make a recommendation by January about whether an incinerator is feasible.

"This whole thing should be a part of the election process," he said. "I think people should take a stand, and we need to get our information out there. Obviously, it's an important issue in the county right now.

"It's still too early to tell what we should do. [The committee] has a lot more information to gather. Incineration is something to consider as an alternative to landfilling," said Mr. Helt, who is an attorney.

Briefly, here is who the committee members are and what they say about the panel's task:

* Robert M. Bare of Reese is president of Bare Truck Center, a Westminster truck dealer that leases trucks to refuse-collection companies. He said he is "open-minded" about an incinerator: "It's a fact-finding committee."

* Thomas Beyard, Westminster's director of planning and public works, oversees city solid waste collection and disposal services.

"One of the difficulties in looking at incinerators is that there are a lot of good models out, but that doesn't mean they would be applicable here in Carroll County," he said. "If you look at the plant in Baltimore that sells steam, Baltimore had many industries set up to use the steam. We don't have that kind of setup here."

He called the availability of water for the incinerator's operation "a critical issue, one we haven't focused on very much."

* Richard J. Borkowicz of Westminster is a mechanical engineer with Versar, a Columbia environmental consulting company. He said he helps clients evaluate pollution-control technologies and federal and state environmental regulations.

"I want to look at all the facts before I make a decision," he said. "All avenues need to be explored -- economic and political and environmental."

* A. Stephen Boyan Jr. of Marriottsville is a political science professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Last year, he co-wrote a book, "Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity Revisited," about environmental problems and why they are worsening.

He hasn't decided whether Carroll should have an incinerator.

"The first thing the county should do is consider other alternatives," including mandatory recycling, he said. The county's recycling rate should be 50 percent to 60 percent, he said. It is 14 percent, county officials say.

"We're going to have to do something, maybe a combination of things," he said.

* Matthew A. Brigance is the owner of Liberty Disposal of Sykesville, which transports waste to Baltimore Refuse Energy Systems Co. (BRESCO), a waste-to-energy plant in Baltimore.

"I view it [incineration] as an opportunity for the county if it's handled carefully," he said. The county should build a plant large enough to accept out-of-county trash in order to help pay for the plant, he said.

* Thomas E. Crumley Jr. is a senior engineer in the generation-planning unit of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. The unit determines what kind of power plants to build and when to build them. He was involved in negotiating the contract for BRESCO.

"We have so many issues yet to be looked at and resolved," Mr. Crumley said. "Public opinion has to be taken into account. There are engineering and environmental concerns. We have to weigh the benefits and detriments to society."

* Myron H. Diehl Jr. of Hampstead is chief boiler inspector for the state. He has inspected incinerators and was involved in the construction of BRESCO as a private inspector.

"I want to see all the facts before the committee makes a concrete decision. Incineration can work, but it's a matter of whether we're ready for it as a county," he said.

"If we generate electricity, will BG&E; take it? There are a lot of different uses for steam, but that doesn't mean we're ready to do that," he said. "What do we do when these landfills are full? Where are we going to find a place [for landfills]?"

* Daniel Fangmeyer of Westminster is the owner of Integrity Recycling, which recycles metal from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

"[Trash disposal] is an extremely expensive proposition, regardless of which direction you go," he said.

He said the committee is looking at alternatives such as recycling, which has its own problems, such as limited markets and fluctuating prices.

* Theodore F. Hoeffler Jr. of Sykesville could not be reached for comment. Mr. Helt said he has not met Mr. Hoeffler, and the commissioners said they do not know him.

* Rachelle Hurwitz of Uniontown is a community activist. She chaired a committee on energy for the League of Women Voters in New Jersey in the 1970s. She said this committee is moving too fast.

"How can we say it's time for an incinerator when we haven't examined all of the alternatives?" she said. "We haven't done mandatory recycling yet, which is what a recycling committee recommended to the commissioners. Recycling can be economically responsible."

She also questioned the wisdom of building a regional waste-to-energy plant.

"I don't think the citizens of Carroll County want to see a regional plant with garbage coming from Harford, York and Adams counties," she said. "What does it mean for traffic? It just raises a lot more questions."

* John M. Joiner is a sales manager for Monumental Supply Co. in Baltimore. He could not be reached for comment.

* Perry L. Jones Jr., Union Bridge mayor, owns a service station in that town.

An incinerator "may be the way to go in the future," he said. "A lot of trash has to be generated. I don't think Carroll alone has enough trash. It may have to be a central location where different counties can use it on a combined effort."

* A. Samuel Ketterman is a vice president at Alex. Brown & Sons in Baltimore and is the county's financial adviser on bond issues. His company sold bonds for BRESCO and has worked on incinerator and solid-waste projects in other states.

* Harold E. Mercer, a Woodbine grain farmer, has left the committee because of his workload on the farm. The commissioners are discussing whether to replace him.

* Dr. Peck describes himself as an environmentalist without any background on incineration.

"My leaning at this time is that we're going to run out of space for landfills and run out of dollars to do all this environmental monitoring that goes along with landfills," he said. "If we're smart enough as a society to put a man on the moon, we ought to be able to think of a better way to get rid of our waste."

If he had to decide today whether Carroll should have an incinerator, he would say yes, he said.

"[But] I will have an open mind until we finish our deliberation," he said.

* Doris Pierce, a New Windsor homemaker, is a past president of the Carroll County League of Women Voters and the Carroll County Historical Society. She was on a committee that wrote a county mining plan last year.

JTC "I'm coming into this with an open mind," she said. "I don't think we've gathered enough information to know what we should do. We can't continue to landfill. We're running out of land. I don't know what the other alternatives are. I think we have a lot to learn."

* John Riley is Hampstead's town manager. He previously worked for Black and Decker in Hampstead, where he was in charge of hazardous waste disposal.

"I believe incineration is the way of the future, given the cost of landfills," Mr. Riley said. "There are lots of problems with landfills."

He said he wasn't sold on incinerators until he toured one in Lancaster, Pa. He believes incineration can work in Carroll, but says it is a massive undertaking and the committee has many problems to address.

* David H. Roush is plant manager at Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in Union Bridge, which has plans to burn tires as fuel in its kilns.

He hasn't decided whether Carroll should have a waste-to-energy plant.

"It is my belief that municipal waste can be safely and successfully burned," he said.

Some might see him as a supporter of burning, but the issue is whether it should be done in Carroll, Mr. Roush said.

* C. Melvin Schneider of Sykesville works for the William Schneider Co., a family business that manages Gaither Manor Apartments. The 152-unit complex has its own water and sewer system, and Mr. Schneider said he is a certified operator of water and waste water treatment plants.

The panel is not biased toward incinerators, he said. "There are people who are asking very hard environmental questions. You're not going to slide this one in under the rug."

* Edward C. Sledge is an attorney specializing in solid waste law at the Baltimore firm Piper and Marbury, which is Carroll County's bond counsel. He does not consider himself a committee member but said he is available for legal advice.

He said he represented the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority -- a six-member public corporation appointed by the governor to help Maryland counties and Baltimore develop waste disposal facilities and find financing in the development of BRESCO in 1985.

He said he has worked with incinerator projects in Montgomery and Harford counties and in Virginia, and has been involved in solid waste law since 1980.

* James F. W. Talley of Woodbine is an Eldersburg real estate agent who co-chaired the South Carroll Citizens Association, formed in 1979 to oppose Hoods Mill Landfill.

"My one bias is against landfills," he said. "The damage and potential damage to ground water is inconceivable. I'm open to alternatives. I want to be known as one who deals with the issue in a holistic way. I'm very concerned about what we leave to the next generation."

* Mr. Yingling was a Republican state delegate from Carroll from 1963 to 1972, and then was the state assistant secretary for economic development until 1977. He is former owner of Westminster Hardware store and Plumbing, Heating and Supplies. He is now retired.

Recycling should be mandatory no matter what solution is chosen to dispose of Carroll's waste, he said.

The commissioners assigned two staff members to work with the committee:

* Keith R. Kirschnick has been director of the county's Public Works Department for 1 1/2 years and has worked for county government for five years.

* James E. Slater Jr. is administrator of the county's Office of Environmental Services. He began working for the county in 1990 after 14 years at Bechtel Corp. in Montgomery County. He was involved in the cleanup of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania.

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