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Rail to bring more waste customers

January 03, 2000

plant workerBy SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




The amount of liquid waste shipped to Washington County's Conococheague Industrial Pretreatment Plant from outside the county is expected to increase slightly when a new rail spur to the plant is completed around April, Marketing Director Greg Larsen said last week.

The rail spur will make it easier for the plant's customers to come from a wider area, possibly as far as Canada, he said.

About 30 percent of the waste treated at the plant, or 402,086 gallons a month, now comes from outside the county, Larsen said.

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Around May that percentage will increase to about 34 percent, or 547,877 gallons per month, he said.

The amount of waste treated is expected to increase from 1.36 million gallons a month to 1.63 million, he said.

Starting in April, companies will be able to deliver pre-treatment waste by rail to the plant complex on Elliott Parkway north of Williamsport.

The waste will flow by pipe from a railroad track to the plant, Larsen said. Construction of the 4-inch pipe has begun and is expected to be completed by April 1, he said.

The increase in the amount of waste might give the plant its first profitable month since it was built, Larsen said. The $9 million plant, built by the now-defunct Washington County Sanitary District in 1994, has yet to make a profit.

Waste already is coming in from as far as Buffalo, N.Y., and Georgia but completion of the spur could mean waste from Canada and other locations could be treated at the plant, Larsen said.

"That is really what rail does for us - it expands our marketplace," Larsen said.

The goal is to have the plant break even, which requires the plant to accept waste from wherever it can get it, Larsen said.

There is only one other government-owned pretreatment plant in the eastern United States and only a handful in the entire nation, Larsen said.

The plant receives an annual $350,000 subsidy from the county general fund.

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