County scraps plans for waste-to-energy incinerator

The Board of County Commissioners struck plans Thursday to get a regional waste-to-energy incinerator, preferring to haul the county’s waste into a landfill with a short-term contract rather. Commissioners Paul Smith and Billy Shreve cast the dissenting votes to keep the project on the dining table while the county explores its options.

“It is absolutely no charge to the county to keep these options available,” Smith stated. “To do away with these options is mad.”

Terminating the project won’t cost the county any money as the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, a quasi-governmental agency which helps the county fulfill its trash disposal needs, will pay the $500,000 conclusion fee. Any remaining funds after this payment is going to be divided between Frederick County and Carroll County, which was a partner in the project. These funds are out of obligations the authority has obtained from Wheelabrator after the service contract was executed in 2010.

However, Young said that he saw no purpose in voting to keep plans for an incinerator, which would burn garbage into energy, open because County Executive-elect Jan Gardner intended to scrap the facility after taking office Dec. 1. Young stated.

County Attorney John Mathias stated Gardner held the power to determine the fate of the incinerator project, not the County Council, when a decision was not made Thursday.

“I believe that you should terminate the entire thing,” Gardner testified in front of the plank and approximately 100 people gathered at Winchester Hall, garnering some applause.

The board unanimously voted in favor of transporting the county’s crap into a out-of-state landfill for $50.95 per ton with a highest last-minute contract.

After considering five suggestions, including three out-of-state prices and two waste-to-energy facilities outside Maryland, the commissioners narrowed their options between two landfills with varying contracts.

Commissioners formerly leaned toward the first option, which provided contracts stretching 25 years at an average of $54.97 per ton, though this cost might escalate annually with the consumer price index and gas rates. On the other hand, the board chose the second option, which Gardner also preferred.

About 30 people testified in front of the board concerning the incinerator project, with a bit more than half in favor of scrapping it and the rest advocating for maintaining the project on the desk to consider it more intensely.

“The incinerator is a waste of energy, a waste of resources (also ) a waste of cash,” Brunswick resident Ellis Burruss testified. “It would be good not to waste any more time .”

Other inhabitants noted that the proposed location of the incinerator, near Monocacy National Battlefield, would ruin the playground ’s tourism and beauty.

However, resident Greg Brown voiced his support for a regional incinerator, supposing it was more environmentally friendly than the other options commissioners were considering.

“Even the top landfills … are at least three times more pollutant than the usual waste-to-energy facility,” Brown stated.

Another resident stated Europe has been constructing waste-to-energy centers for years with no unwanted effects that many have brought up.

“I was actually with this (incinerator project), but with all the energy prices and Carroll County falling out … that I ’m not,” Delauter said, echoing the thoughts of Young and Gray.

Another resident said Europe has been building waste-to-energy facilities for years without the negative consequences that many have brought up.

Jim Warner, CEO of the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority in Pennsylvania, pitched a proposal for hauling the county’s trash, but the commissioners decided to go with an undisclosed out-of-state landfill with a short contract.

“I was actually for this (incinerator project), but with the energy prices and Carroll County dropping out … I’m not,” Delauter said, echoing the sentiments of Young and Gray.


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