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Hospital incinerator gets permit

May 23, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Hospital Association has received a state permit to expand its waste incinerator operation to accept waste from outside sources.

Mary Egan, a resident who lives across the street from the hospital, spoke against the change at a Nov. 30, 1999, public hearing.

Egan does not think it makes sense for an incinerator in the middle of a residential area to accept and burn waste from sources other than the hospital, she said last week.

At this point, only the Western Maryland Health Center in Hagerstown has contacted the hospital about incinerating its medical waste, said Randy Sharshan, the hospital facilities executive who oversees the incinerator operation.

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The center would send about 3,000 to 5,000 pounds a month to the incinerator, Sharshan said. That agreement was reached as a favor to the center, he said.

The permit, which was issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment on May 2, allows the hospital to take medical waste from other sources within Washington County, said Richard McIntire, MDE spokesman.

Sharshan would not rule out the possibility of taking waste from other facilities in the county, and that has Egan concerned.

"It leaves the door open for them to take medical waste from elsewhere in Washington County," Egan said.

The hospital currently incinerates about 4,000 pounds of waste a day on five or six days a week, Sharshan said.

The current permit gives them permission to burn about 500 pounds an hour, or 2.5 tons per day. The new permit does not increase the maximum allowed use, he said.

Ash from the incinerator, which has been in operation since 1992, is taken to a landfill in Pennsylvania.

Egan said nearby residents may not know the ramifications of the state decision.

"If it was another neighborhood people would be up in arms," Egan said.

She is especially concerned in light of increased health concerns about dioxins that come from medical waste, she said. She cited an Environmental Protection Agency report that says dioxins are more dangerous than previously believed.

However, Sharshan said they are below the state's emissions standards.

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