Trash transfer station proposed near Laurel

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The owner of a new, privately held landfill in rural Virginia is seeking approval to build a transfer station near Laurel that would compete directly with Maryland's publicly owned trash facilities.

Garnet Inc. has proposed using a 32-acre plot in the shadow of the Maryland Reformatory for Women to channel trash collected in the mid-Atlantic region to its landfill 70 miles south of Washington.

Some of the 3,000 to 5,000 tons of trash that would pass through the station each day also could be sent to an incinerator in Lorton, Va., Garnet Vice President Blake R. Van Leer II said last week.

The company applied June 9 for a refuse disposal permit from the Maryland Department of Environment to operate a transfer station and recycling center. Garnet has leased the property at Brock Bridge and Guilford roads from Martin Marietta Aggregates.

Transfer stations are becoming an increasingly common sight in the Baltimore-Washington area as more than a half-dozen privately owned, regional landfills have opened in neighboring states.

The landfills are competing with many of Maryland's publicly held facilities. Anne Arundel County officials, for example, recently pointed to the loss of business at the county's Millersville landfill to explain the need for a 25 percent increase in the fee for residential curbside pickup.

Garnet's permit application shows the company hopes to move up to 626,000 tons of residential trash, rubble and incinerator ash through the site in its first year. Within five years, nearly a million tons could pass through annually, according to the document.

By contrast, the Millersville landfill accepts about 350,000 tons of trash annually.

About 75 percent of the garbage taken to Garnet would come from Anne Arundel County and other parts of Maryland. Another 25 percent would come by truck from outside the state, including Washington, the application shows.

Mr. Van Leer said he expects the trash to arrive by truck, with as many as 250 trucks a day at full operation. Inside a 45,000-square-foot building, it would be sorted, compacted and transferred to a southbound train each day.

"The waste will be removed daily," Mr. Van Leer said. "Nothing will be stored overnight."

The train would take the refuse to either the Ogden Martin incinerator in Lorton or Garnet's new 628-acre landfill in Sealston, Va., a rural region on the Rappahannock River about 10 miles east of Fredericksburg. Garnet officials said that landfill is to open this winter.

Bill Sperry, supervisor of the Garnet landfill, said regional facilities such as his need transfer stations as collection points because of their remote locations.

Garnet has received preliminary zoning approval from Anne Arundel County, but Maryland will not issue a refuse permit for the station unless the County Council amends its 10-year Solid Waste Master Plan to include the station, said Richard Josephson, chief of long-range planning for the county Department of Planning and Code Enforcement.

"It's not automatic," Mr. Josephson said. "This is something that the county is going to have to evaluate to determine if it's in conflict with the plan or if it satisfies some future goal of the plan."

Mr. Van Leer said he believes Garnet's proposal fits nicely. Anne Arundel officials want to prolong the life of the 20-year-old Millersville landfill, a mission the transfer station would help by luring commercial haulers, he said.

"Most of the counties that we have had chats with have limited capacity at their landfills and they want to reserve what capacity they have left for residential trash," Mr. Van Leer said.

"They want to conserve that last cell and we are giving them a viable alternative to achieve that."

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