Now that a company that builds waste-to-energy plants is on record recommending against building one of its plants in Carroll County (talk about a non-endorsement!), the idea of investing public money in such an operation in Carroll should finally be put to rest. The county commissioners and others looking into the solid waste disposal question now can focus on more realistic and economically feasible solutions.
Executives from Ogden Martin Systems, a New Jersey company that operates 25 waste-to-energy plants across the nation, were rather blunt. Carroll County does not generate enough garbage to fuel one of its plants. To operate on an efficient and economic basis, an Ogden plant requires 500 tons of trash a day. Carroll generates about 300 tons a day.
Taking into consideration the volume of garbage in Carroll, Ogden's executives instead recommended development of a transfer station to ship trash out of the county. Rather than commit the county to a composting plant, as Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown favors, or a smaller incinerator, as Commissioner Donald I. Dell supports, the county should seriously explore participating in a regional waste disposal project.
For too long, Carroll's officials ignored efforts to develop regional solutions for garbage disposal. Now it is in the best interests of the county and its residents to participate in a metropolitan solution to waste disposal. At a time when many large incinerators can't find enough trash to burn, Carroll's 300 tons of waste could be a valuable contribution to an efficient and affordable regional incinerator.
If agreement on a regional incinerator can't be reached, the commissioners could explore the possibility of entering into a long-term contract to sell garbage to the highest bidder. The county would have to build nothing more than a transfer station. Ogden has already indicated it would be a willing buyer of Carroll's garbage. There may be other companies and local governments interested in obtaining Carroll's solid waste.
Unless circumstances change dramatically, Carroll's solid waste disposal options are a lot clearer than they were a few years ago. Certainly the county cannot solve its solid waste needs alone. Officials must begin to broaden their scope outside Carroll's boundaries.