Washington Co. eyes sending garbage to Frederick Co. incinerator

August 31, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS

Washington County could send some of its garbage for incineration in a regional waste-to-energy facility under development in Frederick County, officials from both counties have said.

The Washington County Commissioners voted unanimously last week to send a letter to Frederick County expressing their interest in a potential partnership.

Frederick and Carroll counties are funding the construction of the 1,500 ton-per-day waste-to-energy facility, commonly known as an incinerator, which will be owned by the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority.

Other counties could be invited to send waste to the facility if Frederick and Carroll counties cannot initially fill the available capacity, said Michael Marschner, director of Frederick County's Division of Utilities and Solid Waste Management.


Under such an agreement, Washington County would transport its waste to the facility for incineration and then accept back a proportionate amount of ash to be disposed of in its own landfill. The ash takes up only a tenth of the volume of the garbage, conserving space and extending the life of the landfill, Marschner said.

The agreement would probably involve Washington County paying a tipping fee for use of the facility, but Washington County would not be expected to contribute to the capital cost of developing the facility unless it wanted to own a portion of the capacity for the life of the plant, Marschner said.

An agreement for the use of Frederick County's excess capacity would be temporary, ending when Frederick County's waste volumes match its allocated capacity, he said.

"We can say there will be a certain amount of excess capacity for 10 years or more, and if Washington County had an interest in that, then we can explore it," Marschner said.

The Frederick County Commissioners would have to approve such an agreement, he said.

The Frederick and Carroll county boards of county commissioners voted in 2009 to enter into agreements with the NMWDA to develop the facility.

The plant would generate energy by moving the trash through a "thermal process" in which temperatures exceed 2,000 degrees, powering boilers and producing high-pressure steam that is converted to electrical energy in a turbine generator, according to a fact sheet on the NMWDA website.

The facility will generate about 55 megawatts of energy, equal to the electricity use of 60,000 homes, the NMWDA website said.

Officials are looking at putting it at the McKinney industrial site, county-owned land along the Monocacy River near Monocacy National Battlefield.

The project is in the permitting phase and is not likely to begin operation for at least five years, Washington County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said.

The project has generated opposition from residents who say incineration is expensive, inefficient and has negative effects on the environment and public health.

Eight of the 19 candidates for Frederick County Commissioner are opposed to the incinerator, according to the opposition website

Marschner said that though Frederick and Carroll counties have signed agreements to build the incinerator, opponents could still bring the project to a halt.

"There's opposition to just about everything," he said. "Could it stop it? Depending on the outcome of the elections that are this year, that's probably what will determine whether the counties ... continue to go forward with the project."

On the Web:

o Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority page on the Waste-to-Energy Facility:

o Citizens for Incinerator Alternatives Now site opposing the project:

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