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State task force holds hearing on trash

October 05, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

The unique terrain of Washington and Frederick counties makes it more difficult to determine if landfills are contaminating ground water, a solid waste activist said Monday.

The area's limestone geology contains pockets that allow contaminants to seep from a landfill undetected by monitoring wells, said Christy Carton, a member of the Frederick County Solid Waste Advisory Committee.

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Carton urged the state's Solid Waste Management Task Force to consider banning landfills on such so-called karst terrain.

The task force was in Hagerstown on Monday to get input for a report it will make to Gov. Parris Glendening in December.

Carton was one of a handful of people who spoke at the public hearing at South Hagerstown High School.

The limestone geology of the area was one reason Washington County built the first rubble landfill in Maryland equipped with a liner, said Richard W. Collins, director of the state's Waste Management Administration.

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The state's sophisticated landfill monitoring process has not yet failed to detect a problem, said Collins, who is a member of the task force.

The task force has been talking about issues such as interstate transportation of trash, county management of trash and landfills, public participation in trash planning, location of trash facilities, regionalization, privatization and the long-term management of solid waste in the state.

The state generates an estimated 6.5 million tons of trash per year. Of that, 1.6 million tons are recycled, 1.3 million tons are incinerated, 2.6 million tons are landfilled and 1 million tons are shipped out of state.

The result is that Maryland has become a net exporter of trash.

Landfills run by county governments are competing with large, privately owned landfills that have opened in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The task force will continue to receive written comments from the public through Oct. 16.

For more information, contact Hilary Miller of the Maryland Department of the Environment, Waste Management Administration, 2500 Broening Highway, Baltimore, Md. 21224, or by calling 1-410-631-3314.

The task force's work so far is on MDE's Web site at www.mde.state.md.us.

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