Ash will find home in Pa.

June 15, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

Some 3,000 tons of ash that has been sailing the seas for 16 years awaiting designation of a final resting place will end up in Franklin County, Pa.

The ash, which is sitting on a barge outside Palm Beach, Fla., is the by-product of a Philadelphia garbage incinerator.

It soon will be transferred into 112 sealed railroad container cars and hauled to Hagerstown. From there, it will be trucked to the Mountain View Reclamation Landfill in Upton at the rate of 200 tons a day.

The last load should arrive at the landfill around July 13, Sandra Roderick, spokeswoman for the South Central, Pa., office of the state Department of Environmental Protection in Harrisburg, said Friday.


The odyssey began in 1986 when Philadelphia hired a shipping company to dispose of its municipal waste incinerator ash because the city had run out of landfill space.

About 14,000 tons of ash was loaded onto the Khian Sea, a ship operated by Amalgamated Shipping Co. and registered in Liberia.

Roderick didn't know how the tonnage dropped from 14,000 to 3,000 or what happened to the rest of the ash. The theory is that much of it was dumped at sea.

The ship wandered the Caribbean Sea over the next few years in search of a place to dump the ash. It was turned away from the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, the Netherland-Antilles, Haiti and Bermuda, Roderick said.

The ash was transferred from the ship to a barge.

Greenpeace became involved and started to protest the attempt by the United States to dump its trash on Third World countries, Roderick said.

The U.S. State Department got involved in the late 1990s, she said.

The 3,000 tons of ash was sent to Florida in 2000.

"Florida wants it out and is working with Pennsylvania to get it out," she said.

Roderick said officials at Waste Management, owners of Mountain View Reclamation, asked environmental agency officials if there was some way to haul the ash there.

She said the agency sent a team to Florida several weeks ago to sample the ash. Comprehensive tests showed that the material is nonhazardous and meets the agency's disposal standards.

The ash was also tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, city officials in Philadelphia, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and a private company, Roderick said.

All the tests showed that the material is nonhazardous, she said.

"It's the same as any incinerator ash accepted by landfills in the state," she said.

Mountain View Reclamation was given permission to accept the ash, Roderick said.

Pennsylvania has made an issue over not accepting out-of-state trash in its landfills, she said.

"We made a lot of noise about that. Now, we have to take our own," she said.

The ash will be shipped to Hagerstown in two shipments of 56 container cars each, Roderick said.

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