MedX petitions to raise incinerator's burning rate Residents, Della opposed; company says it's 'win-win'


MedX Inc. wants to increase the rate at which it processes medical waste at its incinerator on the Baltimore-Anne Arundel County line, a proposal that has nearby residents fuming.

"What they're trying to do is expand and say it's going to be more environmentally efficient," said Dolores Barnes, president of Concerned Citizens for a Better Brooklyn. "But it's just another one of those ways of sneaking in the back door."

The incinerator, located amid Hawkins Point industries on Chemical Road a few miles from Solley, burns infectious waste from hospitals, laboratories and doctors' offices.

MedX, a division of Attwoods P.L.C., a national waste incinerator company, applied several months ago to the Maryland Department of the Environment for a permit to increase its feed rate from 1,200 pounds per hour to 1,450 pounds per hour.

Med Net Inc., which used to own the Chemical Road site, became part of MedX in late 1991. Its new owners have not changed the name on the site's building or trucks yet. But they will, said Angel Aguiar, an engineer with MedX in Miami.

The increased rate is necessary if the incinerator is to operate at its optimum performance range, he said.

"If you underfeed the incinerator significantly, you will end up operating under conditions that could generate more pollutants in the atmosphere," he said. "What we're asking the state to approve is a system that burns better."

Because the increased rate would make the incinerator burn cleaner, the amount of emissions released into the air would be reduced by 50 percent or more, Mr. Aguiar said.

"That's the advantage. That's the pay back. It's a win-win situation for everyone," he said.

But State Sen. George W. Della Jr., a South Baltimore Democrat, and residents who heard MedX officials explain their plans two weeks ago at the Curtis Bay Recreation Center, were not impressed.

The area near MedX and other incinerators has one of the highest cancer rates in the area, Mr. Della said in a recent interview. The senator said he is skeptical of MedX's claim that a higher feed rate is needed.

"I'm not going to support anything that the community perceives as adverse to them," he said. "Who in the devil suffers but those people who live in the area?" Mr. Della said that the owners of the incinerator need approval from city officials, who have imposed a 10-year solid waste moratorium, as well as state environmental officials. MedX is "playing one level of government against another," he said.

The Department of the Environment is to make a tentative decision on MedX's request in 30 days, said spokesman Michael Sullivan.

"Our primary concern is whether the emissions from the smokestacks at the facility will still meet state standards," Mr. Sullivan said.

MedX "wants this permit so they can make more money," Ms. Barnes said. "I can understand that. If I were in business, I'd want the same. But you can't do it at the risk of the community that's already impacted by high pollution."

A public hearing may be held at the end of the department's review if residents request one.

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