1st Urban Fiber's neighbors air their frustrations

November 15, 1996



Staff Writer

About 30 people who live near 1st Urban Fiber's paper recycling plant voiced frustrations and anger over noise, odor and truck traffic to officials of Hagerstown and 1st Urban on Thursday.

"Our neighborhood has been raped and it's continuing to be raped," said Nancy Foust, 59, who lives on Radcliffe Avenue northeast of the recycling plant.

The recycling plant and, more recently, the city's pellet plant, have been sources of unpleasant odors over the past two months.


"Clearly we said this place won't stink. Clearly it has been," said Mayor Steven T. Sager at the roughly two-hour meeting at the recycling plant on the corner of Eastern and Memorial boulevards.

A recent problem at the city's pellet plant off Frederick Street caused a manure-like odor in the area last week. The city plant produces pellets, byproducts of the sewage treatment process that can be used for fertilizer.

1st Urban and city officials were to meet today to discuss how to identify odor problems from the two plants and fix them, said Bruce Hynes, 1st Urban's president and general manager.

Those present were given an explanation why an odor from the recycling plant in late September lingered for weeks afterward.

The mixture of bacteria, fiber and water that was linked to the original odor problem sat for three weeks in three dumpsters in the plant's parking lot, said Victoria Mock, 1st Urban's technical manager. The mixture was not hauled away sooner because Pennsylvania state officials had to give approval for it to be dumped in a landfill in that state, she said.

Other odors have emanated from the plant in recent months, and plant officials have taken steps to eliminate them, Mock said. Plant workers regularly sanitize sections of the plant where odor problems have been found, she said.

Some people expressed concerns about trucks that they said were using residential roads instead of Eastern Boulevard to get to and from the recycling plant.

1st Urban officials repeatedly have asked truck drivers not to use residential roads, Hynes said.

All 1st Urban contracts with haulers since early October have stipulated that the contract will be canceled if truck drivers use any route other than that designated, Hynes said.

Signs designed to limit truck traffic are expected to be erected within two weeks on Cleveland and Cannon avenues, City Engineer Bruce Johnston said.

City officials will have to talk to Washington County officials about similar signs for Mount Aetna Road, because the county owns part of that road, said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

Train traffic to and from 1st Urban probably will begin in mid-December, Hynes said.

After discussing their concerns, neighbors listened to a businessman who wants to fire up the old Municipal Electric Light Plant to produce steam and electricity. The old plant is across Eastern Boulevard from 1st Urban.

"I'm not crazy about seeing another monster stuck down here," said Radcliffe resident Pauline Baker.

Based on what he heard Thursday, Sager said after the meeting that he wouldn't support firing up the old light plant over the neighborhood's objections.

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