A public hearing will be scheduled in about a month on a Carroll County cement manufacturer's proposal to store and burn sludge pellets, known as biosolids, as a fuel alternative to coal.
County commissioners, who are required to hold a hearing before deciding on any changes to zoning, are considering a zoning amendment that would allow the German-owned Lehigh Cement Co. to store as much as 400 tons of sanitized sludge that would be trucked from Synagro-Baltimore LLC.
Lehigh plans to build a 130-foot storage silo to hold the biosolids, which it would burn in its kiln. The factory would be the first in the United States to burn sludge for fuel, although the practice is widespread in Europe.
The zoning proposal would allow the storage of sanitized sludge with a valid research permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to the amendment. The company also has to secure storage, handling, and transportation permits, and install adequate ventilation and filtration systems and fire protections. Lehigh officials must report monthly to the county zoning administrator.
The amendment would be temporary and would expire in one year unless the commissioners renew it.
"The time frame gives Lehigh an opportunity to research and our zoning administrator an opportunity to monitor the process," said County Attorney Kimberly Millender.
The commissioners will advertise the hearing date and location in local newspapers and on the county Web site - ccgovernment.carr.org, where the proposed amendment is posted.