Citizens Protest Proposed Incinerator

WFMD
Kevin McManus
09/21/213
Chanting "Hey, hey; ho, ho; incinerator has got to go," and unfurling a banner which read "Draw The Line; No Incinerator; Fight CLimate Change," a group of citizens gathered at the McKinney Industrial Park Saturday morning to protest the proposed waste to energy facility for Frederick County. The demonstration was local, but it was driven by national organizations such as 350.org, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which are concerned about the impact incineration has on climate change. "It's the most environmentally irresponsible approach we could take," says former county commissioner Kai Hagen, who was at the rally. "There are public health concerns and it's an incredibly risky financial endeavor that was never really justified. The economic model used to justify it was indefensible then, and it's even more indefensible now." Hagen was on the Board of County Commissioners when approval was given to go ahead with the project. He voted in opposition.

Shades of Green

Saving the Planet Touches Almost Every Area of Frederick County Living, and it Comes with a Price Tag
Frederick Magazine
Linda Norris-Waldt
09/16/2013
Save the Bay. Buy recycled. Reduce your carbon footprint. Conserve water. The list goes on and on. And so does the number of programs and projects that aim to improve Frederick County’s environment— and with them, the debate about where lies the responsibility: Who pays, who is inconvenienced by change, and how much habit-breaking is practical when the returns aren’t immediately evident. A myriad of regulations, public education programs and businesses have brought environmental initiatives to our doors. The new programs, like mandating rain barrels and rain gardens for new subdivisions, roll in with great fanfare like ocean waves, supported by public demand. And then they are either delayed or abridged because of cost, impact or feasibility. A constant rebalancing is always taking place. Kirby Delauter, a Frederick County commissioner whose work in construction takes him into the field where he has direct encounters with environmental regulations, has been no fan of the feasibility of government programs regulating the environment. They have “grown exponentially and for no good reason other than to expand the role of government in our lives,” he says. “Stormwater has been ruled by courts to not be a pollutant, yet we still seem to have governing bodies that can’t let go of the power and control of regulating the lives of personal property owners.” Kai Hagen, a community activist and former county commissioner known for championing environmental causes, has a differing view. “If people knew the real environmental and economic costs and benefits associated with the choices we make—as a community—I’m convinced we would be making a lot more responsible choices than we are now,” he says. Here’s how current environmental programs in Frederick County touch water, land and lives.

Frederick County to continue, possibly expand municipal recycling program

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
09/07/2013
Bottles and cans might soon have to cover less distance to land in a recycling bin near Brunswick or Thurmont. The Board of County Commissioners decided Thursday to continue and possibly expand the county's municipal recycling program. Middletown, Walkersville and Emmitsburg each have the recycling drop-off sites, and under the pilot program, have received county dollars to reimburse them for running the centers. Commissioners on Thursday unanimously opted to make the recycling incentive program permanent and set aside $50,000 to fund the current sites and support Brunswick and Thurmont if they join the program. "This is a program we started. It's been very, very popular. So this is to take it to another level," Commissioners President Blaine Young said. The fiscal 2014 funding levels represent a reduction from last year, when the program was budgeted for up to $100,000. However, Phillip Harris, the county's superintendent of solid waste management, said the three participating municipalities together used only about $12,300 of the available funds.

Recycling: What happens to all those plastics and cans?

Frederick News Post
Margie Hyslop
08/11/2013
Ever wonder how the jumble of recyclables tossed in your one-bin-takes-all cart gets sorted so it all can be shipped off to become new products? The answer is inside a building in Howard County which receives much of the recyclable material collected in Frederick County. Winding through the 50,000 square-foot Recycle America plant off U.S. Route 1 in Elkridge is an ingenious array of conveyor belts interspersed with a series of staged mechanical and magnetic filters. The apparatus fills most of the structure and separates most stuff stashed in the carts that Frederick residents have been wheeling to the curb since the county expanded its recycling program to a single stream system in 2009. At the plant — one of several in Maryland owned by Waste Management, the world’s largest collector and marketer of recyclables — workers first weigh each load and record where it came from. Then all the material goes onto a conveyor belt where workers watch for large items and plastic bags and remove those by hand. Tons of paper, cardboard, metals, glass, plastic run down the belt to rows of rotating disks gauged to sort materials by pushing some items over the top and allowing others to fall through and move for further sorting. Large pieces of cardboard are snagged early and sent to storage for baling.

Composting at Home

Carroll County Times
07/22/2013
According to a report by the EPA, in 2010 Americans produced around 250 million tons of municipal waste, or everyday items used and thrown out. 250 million tons! And that’s only one country’s everyday garbage; that number doesn’t include the commercial, industrial, or agricultural waste that America produces. Another statistic to chew on is that also in 2010, the average individual waste generation was 4.43 pounds per person per day. Imagine how large would be the entire world’s collective garbage pile! Have you ever thought about what you can do at home to reduce your impact on waste generation? Composting is one solution that is both easy and highly beneficial. It is estimated that more than half of municipal waste is compostable, but the amount of waste that is actually composted falls far below half. Composting enriches your soil, saves you money, reduces landfill waste, recycles kitchen and yard waste, and is good for the environment. You can start at home by creating a pile of “green” and “brown” items.

Wasted food

Frederick News Post
06/21/2013
Recycling has become a cornerstone of our lives here in Frederick County. The blue bins that line the streets once every two weeks in front of our homes have become a familiar sight. We’ve come a long way from the 1991 pilot program for 4,000 households that launched recycling in the county. But an article in The New York Times recently made us wonder if we couldn’t go a little bit beyond the plastic bottles, aluminum foil, paper and cardboard that make up most of what we throw in our recycling carts. The Times article reported that following a highly successful pilot program, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will roll out a plan to allow all city residents to recycle food scraps. Residents will be issued containers into which they dump their food waste, and the program, while initially voluntary, is expected to become mandatory. According to the Times, food waste and organic materials account for about a third of the city’s trash. If diverted from the three landfills to which waste is trucked at the cost of $80 a ton, the city could save $100 million a year. Initially, the program will handle 100,000 tons of food scraps that will be sent to a hired composting plant. The program is expected to be so successful, the administration will seek proposals to build its own processing plant to transform the waste into biogas, which would be burned to generate electricity, according to the Times. If you’re thinking New York is a long way from Frederick County, you’re correct. But a similar program is in place closer to home in Howard County, which is set to expand a food-waste recycling pilot program initiated more than a year ago.

Organization seeking to recognize green businesses

Carroll County Times
Carrie Ann Knauer
05/27/2013
A local environmental organization is aiming to connect eco-friendly businesses to eco-conscious consumers through a Green Business Network in Carroll County. The program is a collaborative effort by a committee composed of members of Waste Not! Carroll, Sustainable Living Maryland and the Catoctin chapter of the Sierra Club, said Sally Long, one of the committee members. Long said fellow committee member Don West came across a similar network of green businesses in Boone, N.C., and thought it would be a good opportunity for Carroll businesses and consumers.

Food-scrap composting finds a home in Howard

County launches own facility to process residential waste
Baltimore Sun
Timothy B. Wheeler
04/21/2013
Howard Hord considers himself a chef of sorts, but the food he works with is a little past its prime. Using moldy melon rinds, orange peels and other castoff fruit and vegetables from some Howard County kitchens, Hord is "cooking" the first batches of plant fertilizer to be produced by the new composting facility at the county's Alpha Ridge landfill in Marriottsville, set to mark its official opening on Monday, Earth Day.

Once you burn them .

Frederick News Post
Jan Samet O'Leary
03/19/2013
The current debate over the waste-to-energy incinerator is missing a crucial point: What we are calling “waste” actually contains vital natural resources. The fact is that our planetary resources are finite, and, in our inexorable rush to consume, we are in serious jeopardy of exhausting substances that are necessary to the health of the planet and to our survival as a species. Take phosphorus, for example. A critical ingredient in chemical fertilizers and in our own bodies, this element, at current usage rates, will be depleted in just 50 to 100 years. Similarly zinc, the fourth-most used metal in the world and essential for human growth, may also be gone within the next century. And there are many others. So what does this have to do with an incinerator in Frederick County?

Burnin’ Down The Waste

Trash Talk
Frederick Gorilla
Kelly Brook
04/27/2012
“No Incinerator!” scream the signs. If you live or work in Frederick County, you’ve seen them in windows, on lawns and in cars for years. You can’t help but notice them. When you see them, maybe you cringe from the vision of soaring incinerator smokestacks spewing a black, smoky, noxious sludge of particulates, carcinogens, and climate-altering acids. Or maybe you roll your eyes imagining the “tree-hugging, peace-loving, Common Market-shopping” conservationist who might have posted it. If you’re like most people, though, you take a moment to acknowledge your concern for the environment, worry for a moment about how this will affect your taxes, wonder what the heck this incinerator debate is all about—and then forget about it and get on with your day.

Consultant: County should perform solid waste audit

Carroll County Times
Carrie Ann Knauer
04/11/2012
A Frederick County consultant reaffirmed the need for an audit of Carroll’s waste stream after giving a presentation to the county solid waste work group Tuesday evening.Steve Cassis, of Solid Waste Analysis Group in Frederick, was a guest at the work group’s second meeting Tuesday. Cassis reviewed the basics of a similar presentation he gave to Frederick County in 2009 recommending that Frederick and Carroll turn away from a plan to build a 1,500-ton-per-day waste-to-energy incinerator and instead focus on a regional resource recovery park. The resource recovery park would include a number of elements to divide the counties’ collected waste into separate elements where each type of waste could be reused, recycled or properly disposed of.The recommended elements for the resource recovery park would include a materials recovery facility where recyclables could be sorted for sale, a composting operation, construction and demolition recycling, electronic waste recycling, a reuse center where people could claim used goods, a household hazardous waste collection area, secure document destruction, a maintenance facility and demonstration areas and classrooms. Cassis said he would recommend having an area of at least 300 acres for such a facility so that there is plenty of room for the operations, potential growth and to maintain a green space buffer from neighboring properties.

Fact checking 'WTE 101, continued'

Frederick News Post
Karin Tome
11272011
If Harvey Alter were graded on his Nov. 17 commentary ("WTE 101, continued"), he wouldn't receive a very high score. It's not what he said, but what he didn't say. The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority will issue bonds to pay for the proposed trash incinerator, but the county is obligated (through a separate contract with NMWDA) to make regular payments to them, such as you would for your mortgage. The county's System Benefit Charge is not "so-called," but very real. As a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Alter knows very well that the primary revenue for this business operation is based both on tipping fees and the SBC fee (which is found on residential and commercial property tax bills and can be raised without limit.) If the revenue from tipping and SBC fees, and the electricity sales and ferrous metal recovery don't cover those expenses, county residents will have to make up the difference through higher SBCs. Alter states that "... anecdotal evidence from around the country is that communities with WTE recycle more" and "Recycling and WTE together conserve and recover more resources than either alone." That statement is true only where recycling is at a very low level and the tonnage of ash (if used for landfill daily cover) and ferrous metal found in the ash are counted as recycling. However, as recycling increases it will compete with incineration, especially for plastics and paper. We could spend, however, a fraction of the cost of the incinerator on alternative ways to divert waste from the landfill (such as a commercial compost facility or manned recycling centers throughout the county (in addition to Reich's Ford Road) and we'd be able to recover many more resources and conserve more energy than would be produced by burning them. For example: Manufacturing a ton of newspaper from trees takes 11,699 kilowatt hours; if that ton of paper is recycled, a new ton of paper can be made using only 6,442 kWh, but if it's burned it only produces 1,875 kWh of electricity.

Fact checking ‘WTE 101, continued’

Frederick News Post
Karin Tome
11272011
If Harvey Alter were graded on his Nov. 17 commentary ("WTE 101, continued"), he wouldn't receive a very high score. It's not what he said, but what he didn't say. The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority will issue bonds to pay for the proposed trash incinerator, but the county is obligated (through a separate contract with NMWDA) to make regular payments to them, such as you would for your mortgage. The county's System Benefit Charge is not "so-called," but very real. As a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Alter knows very well that the primary revenue for this business operation is based both on tipping fees and the SBC fee (which is found on residential and commercial property tax bills and can be raised without limit.) If the revenue from tipping and SBC fees, and the electricity sales and ferrous metal recovery don't cover those expenses, county residents will have to make up the difference through higher SBCs. Alter states that "... anecdotal evidence from around the country is that communities with WTE recycle more" and "Recycling and WTE together conserve and recover more resources than either alone." That statement is true only where recycling is at a very low level and the tonnage of ash (if used for landfill daily cover) and ferrous metal found in the ash are counted as recycling. However, as recycling increases it will compete with incineration, especially for plastics and paper. We could spend, however, a fraction of the cost of the incinerator on alternative ways to divert waste from the landfill (such as a commercial compost facility or manned recycling centers throughout the county (in addition to Reich's Ford Road) and we'd be able to recover many more resources and conserve more energy than would be produced by burning them. For example: Manufacturing a ton of newspaper from trees takes 11,699 kilowatt hours; if that ton of paper is recycled, a new ton of paper can be made using only 6,442 kWh, but if it's burned it only produces 1,875 kWh of electricity.

WTE will make our county sick

Frederick News Post
Nicole Orr
11/05/211
am still befuddled by the fact that this WTE idea is still moving forward. It's not only about the estimated $1 billion that will be spent to build, fix, retrofit and maintain the thing. It's also about finding 1,500 tons of trash a day to feed it. Burning garbage to produce energy is highly inefficient. Recycling recovers three to five times more energy than incineration produces. Once that can, bottle or newspaper is burned, its life cycle is over. Modern technology has enabled us to reuse our natural resources. Burning them is taking a huge step in the wrong direction. Americans are recycling more, manufacturers are touting their green products made from recycled materials and the federal government has enacted Executive Order 13101 -- Greening the Government Through Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Federal Acquisition. We are teaching our kids to reduce, reuse, recycle, and they are. This Board of Frederick County Commissioners is building a machine that does not account for the level of waste reduction we will achieve in the future.

Positive impulse

Frederick News Post
04/10/2009
The battle continues between those who support the county's investigation into waste-to-energy technology and those who advocate making recycling the focus of local solid waste management. Who is "right" isn't clear, and may never be, regardless of who eventually prevails. However, whether local enthusiasts are correct or not in their assertions about recycling's potential, the impetus behind this movement is generally a positive one. Rather than simply throwing money or technology at the county's solid waste concerns, recycling proponents are instead trying to mobilize the local community to accept this challenge and get personally involved, resident by resident, in a solution that requires their active participation. There are other issues as well, including the cost, siting and operating concerns, and environmental and health worries associated with the proposed WTE facility, which would generate electricity while incinerating solid waste. The recycling/waste reduction program preferred by many in the community would avoid all these issues to some extent.

New trash disposal option considered

Frederick News Post
Karen Gardner
03/05/2009
The county's waste-to-energy debate just got a little more complicated. Frederick County Commissioners Jan Gardner and Charles Jenkins announced Wednesday that they will look into another trash disposal option. This one uses a mechanical biological treatment system. The commissioners have considered building a $527 million incinerator that would burn trash and convert some of it into electricity. The idea has passionate supporters and detractors. Gardner and Jenkins plan to go to a March 16 conference in Philadelphia and meet with representatives of ArrowBio, the most well-known builder of mechanical biological treatment systems. None exist in the United States. There is one in Australia and one in Israel. The commissioners have boosted household recycling options this year. Still, that probably won't significantly reduce the 600 to 800 tons of daily residential trash that the county collects. Most of the county's trash is trucked to a landfill in southern Virginia, an option the county will have through 2015. The commissioners are looking for a more permanent option. "On a number of fronts, ArrowBio seems promising," Jenkins said at Wednesday's press conference. A ballpark estimate of the cost is $75 million to $100 million. If the county decides to build an incinerator with Wheelabrator, the company county staff recommends, the plant could cost the county up to $325 million. Carroll County would pay the rest. The two counties would share the plant, but it would be built in Frederick County.

Public hearing on waste-to-energy brings crowd

Frederick News Post
Karen Gardner
02/18/2009
Debt, dioxins, outdated technology and traffic were just some of the reasons Frederick County residents gave for opposing a proposed waste-to-energy plant during a public hearing before the County Commissioners on Tuesday night. Most of the speakers opposed the incinerator, which is projected to cost the county $325 million. Carroll County would assume an additional $200 million of the cost, if the two counties decide to proceed. The commissioners are considering whether to build the incinerator to handle 800 tons of trash Frederick County residents generate per day. Most of that trash is being sent to an out-of-state landfill. County officials said that is not a long-term solution. At least 60 people signed up to speak at the hearing, which will be continued at 7 p.m. Thursday. Three local developers said the incinerator would be a blight for residents and businesses who are within a few miles of the Md. 85 corridor. The site being considered is on Metropolitan Court, off English Muffin Way, across the Monocacy River from the Monocacy National Battlefield.

Mooney against proposed plant near battlefield

Frederick News Post
Karen Gardner
02/17/2009
Alex Mooney might use his position in the Maryland State Senate to keep a proposed Frederick County waste-to-energy plant from being built adjacent to the Monocacy National Battlefield. Mooney met with people interested in the issue Monday at the McKinney industrial site off Metropolitan Court near the county's Division of Public Utilities and Solid Waste offices. Until a few weeks ago, he said, he hadn't been involved in the county's proposal to build an incinerator with Carroll County to deal with increasing trash. At a public meeting Feb. 3, the county commissioners decided to schedule a public hearing for tonight on two sites being considered for the incinerator. Both sites are in Mooney's district. One of those sites, where Potomac Edison once planned a power plant east of Point of Rocks, was scrapped last week because it is in the Carrollton Manor Rural Legacy Area.

County transfer station opens

Frederick News Post
Karen Gardner
01/19/2009
The first load of cans, bottles and plastic fell to the floor of the Frederick County Landfill's new transfer station Tuesday afternoon with a clang. Eight years in the making and two years later than county officials had hoped, the 56,053-square-foot concrete and metal structure officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday. County commissioners and other local officials attended. The new building will make it possible for the county to start its new single-stream recycling program. The transfer station will also be where 80 to 90 percent of the county's trash will be loaded onto 18-wheeler trucks and driven to out-of-state landfills. For the past several years, the county has shipped most of its trash because the local landfill is nearly full. Haulers would dump the trash at a makeshift outdoor transfer site, and cranes would load it into tractor-trailers. This meant working outdoors in cold, windy conditions, or in extreme heat. Wind would blow some of the trash away, and spread the dust and stench. Rain would wet the trash and cause it to weigh more, increasing the rates the county would pay to other states. The new indoor station is large enough that haulers can pull up under cover and dump the trash into containers below. Each 18-wheeler truck can carry 23 tons of trash, said Dan Bower, assistant superintendent of the county landfill. The transfer station will allow up to 2,000 tons of material a day to be processed. Haulers bring the trash in, and it is weighed on the station's massive scale and dumped in less than 15 minutes.

County expects higher rate with new recycling programs

Frederick News Post
Meg Tully
12/28/2008
Frederick County expects to increase its recycling rate next year, after a new single-stream recycling program begins in the middle of January. About 44 percent of county trash was diverted or recycled in 2007, up from 39 percent in 2006, according to preliminary numbers calculated by the Maryland Department of the Environment. "It tells us we're moving in the right direction," said Phil Harris, superintendent of Solid Waste Management. "It's a marathon, not a sprint." Single-stream recycling means that bottles, cans, papers and cardboard are collected in a single container. Maryland uses a formula for calculating recycling rates that was included in the Maryland Recycling Act. Because each state calculates rates differently, Harris said the rates should not be compared across state lines. For instance, Maryland does not include construction and demolition recycling like other states.