Md., Del. weigh plant to burn chicken waste; Joint effort envisions Vienna coal-fired plant switching to manure


Maryland and Delaware are considering a joint project to reduce chicken manure waste in both states by burning it in a power plant in Vienna, Md.

Govs. Parris N. Glendening and Thomas R. Carper announced that their states may join in converting the coal-powered plant after they met yesterday with officials of Conectiv Inc., which owns the facility.

Conectiv is the holding company for Delmarva Power & Light Co., one of the utilities supplying electricity to the Eastern Shore.

The two Democrats disclosed few details of the proposal other than to say that it was one of several being considered to rid Delmarva of its huge concentration of poultry litter.

Carper said that burning chicken manure to generate electricity is "not rocket science." The Delaware governor noted that Fibrowatt Ltd. of London has three electric power plants operating in England that burn 700,000 tons of manure a year.

Glendening said it was too soon to estimate the cost of converting the Dorchester County power plant and no agreement has been reached to go forward with the project.

Carper said such a joint project would involve private capital, but could be subsidized by state and federal funds.

The Vienna plant was selected because it is in the center of the poultry producing regions of both states, he said.

"There is no single solution" to Delmarva's chicken manure problem, Carper said. He said the litter could also be made into pellets and sold to gardeners and farmers as fertilizer.

Officials of Conectiv left the governors' news conference in Annapolis without commenting on the proposal.

Fibrowatt officials have expressed interest in setting up a power plant in Maryland, similar to those it has opened in England.

The plants are a good way to get rid of chicken manure, but are not the most economical way of generating electrical power, company officials concede. They have said that government subsidies would be needed to make a project viable.

The Vienna project would be in addition to the state's efforts to convert the boilers at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover from wood chips to chicken waste for the generation of heat and electricity, said Glendening.

Last summer, Maryland awarded McBurney Corp. of Norcross, Ga., a $145,500 contract to study the conversion. That project "is still being studied," Glendening said.

Scientists suspect runoff from fields using chicken manure as fertilizer contributed to Pfiesteria outbreaks in 1997 that closed portions of three Shore waterways.

Pub Date: 2/09/99

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