Waste industry executives tried to convince Howard County Council members that each of their companies had the answer to the county's waste disposal problems.
Representatives of Ogden Martin Systems Inc., which is trying develop a joint project with Carroll and Howard counties, Chambers Development Co. and Browning-Ferris Industries each tried to sell its proposal and discredit the other two.
"Right now, until somebody zapped the garbage into the fourth dimension, you're going to need a landfill along the way," said Brad Gandee, manager of sales and marketing for Chambers.
Chambers, a Pittsburgh-based waste firm, touted its environmental safety procedures in transporting waste by rail to its four landfills in Western Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
"The ultimate in inflexibility is burying your garbage in a hole in the ground forever," said Scott W. Whitney, vice president of implementation for Ogden Martin.
Ogden Martin is trying to interest Howard and Carroll counties in a waste-to-energy plant that would burn trash, power a paper-recycling facility and sell excess power to the Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.
A representative from Ogden Martin is expected to present the company's proposal to Carroll's Waste-to-Energy Committee this month.
But John L. Lininger, marketing manager in Maryland and Delaware for Houston-based Browning-Ferris, questioned whether the proposal could ever get off the ground in Howard.
"There is no county in this region that has agreed to site an incinerator. There is no county in this region that has agreed to site an ash [landfill]," he said.
Like Chambers, Browning-Ferris is proposing a contract of 20 years or longer to remove the county's waste and haul it to a regional landfill.
But Houston-based Browning Ferris claims that it will also recycle and compost large quantities of the waste.
Howard County Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, asked the waste companies to face off last night to help educate council members for the forthcoming debate on approving a 10-year solid waste plan.
Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker is expected to produce a draft plan this month and submit a proposal to the council in January.
The Howard County Solid Waste Advisory Committee, which studied waste alternatives for more than a year, recommended in February that after the county has recycled and composted as much as it can, it should incinerate rather than use a landfill.
Landfills have become a particular concern lately in Howard County.
The county has so far spent more than $700,000 to clean up toxins dumped at the Carrs Mill Landfill in Woodbine, and concern over toxins leaking from the county's only operating landfill in Marriottsville this year killed a study of its possible expansion.
Both landfills are located just below the Howard-Carroll line.