Wrong on waste-to-energy details

Frederick News Post
Caroliine Eader
Harvey Alter continues to make it clear he’s not read any of the contracts pertaining to the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority’s proposed trash incinerator, which is to be located in Frederick (“Halloween Garbage”, May 12). And because of his lack of understanding he continues to write fiction. For example, it is not completely true when he writes the incinerator’s costs are to be covered by the tipping fee charged at the landfill. The tipping fees will be whatever the market can bear, and most likely the majority of the costs will be covered by the System Benefit Charge (SBC), which is a mandatory fee found on each and every property tax bill in the county.

Frederick Public will pay for incinerator

Frederick News Post
Matthew Seubert
Where will all this money come from? The county and the NEA claim it will come from electricity generated by burning trash, the sale of recovered metals and tip fees. Nearly all of the electricity generated is contractually pledged first to Wheelabrator to cover operating costs. Little, if any, will arc its way into county coffers. The real answer to the question is much simpler. The money will come from a tax on every property owner in the county in the form of a system benefit charge on our property tax bill, which can be increased by the county at will.

Contract details bedevil incinerator opponents; county seeks opinions

Frederick News Post
Patti S. Borda
The contract Frederick County has for a $400 million waste-to-energy incinerator does not say what the county believes it does, a variety of opponents keeps insisting. They are wrong, the Board of County Commissioners keeps responding: wrong about the lease agreement with the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, wrong about the $400 million debt responsibility, wrong about who has to deal with all the incinerator ash. Commissioners say they will verify their position before carrying out the contract with the authority to build the incinerator. The incinerator is supposed to take 1,500 tons of trash and burn it into electricity, which will generate profit for the authority, reduce the county’s electrical cost and cut back on landfill use. The contract assumes electrical rates, trash supply and landfill availability that are not realistic or good for the county, said Bruce Holstein, a retired government accountant.

Waste to energy: the story so far

Frederick News Post
May 2000 — Frederick County hires consultants to evaluate landfill capacity problems. February 2006 — County commissioners begin procurement process for waste-to-energy incinerator. March 2007 — County Commissioner David Gray and Michael Marschner, director of the county's Utilities and Solid Waste Management Division, visit seven European countries to investigate waste-to-energy technology. April 2008 — Carroll and Frederick county commissioners discuss partnership on incinerator to burn 1,500 tons of trash per day to generate electricity. February 2009 — More than 200 people attend public hearings on incinerator, the majority in opposition. April 2009 — A state Senate committee rejects a bill that would prohibit incinerators near battlefields. July 2009 — Frederick and Carroll counties agree to build a regional trash incinerator at the McKinney Industrial site near Buckeystown Pike. October 2009 — Frederick County Planning Commission determines the waste-to-energy plant is not consistent with the county's comprehensive plan. November 2009 — County commissioners appeal planning commission’s decision in Frederick County Circuit Court. Planning commission reverses its earlier decision on the county's plans to build a trash incinerator. December 2009 — Residents challenge the planning commission's reversal on a ruling that could have blocked construction. August 2010 — Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority has first permitting hearing for air emissions. November 2010 — A study states the incinerator will cost Frederick County $140.7 million over the next 30 years, significantly less than an initial estimate of $331 million. October 2011 — An environmental group study reports that waste-to-energy incinerators release lead and mercury at a greater rate than some coal-fired plants. November 2011 — More than 100 residents turn out for the county's final public hearing on the waste-to-energy project. June 2012 — After making it known for months that they are pursuing other options, Carroll County officials give Frederick County the green light to pursue new partners for the incinerator. August 2012 — Only about a third of those who sign up to speak have their voices heard at a two-hour Maryland Department of the Environment public hearing on a water permit for the incinerator. September 2012 — With uncertainty about Carroll County's partnership and no firm commitment from a replacement county, Frederick asks Wheelabrator Technologies to calculate the cost of building a plant to burn only Frederick County's trash. January 2013 — Maryland Department of the Environment schedules a single hearing for the final three permits needed before construction of the incinerator can begin.

Contractors learn about incinerator options

County expects jobs, added work to come from project
Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy
The permits are not yet in hand, but Frederick County is already talking construction and job creation related to the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator. On the eve of a public hearing to discuss one of three permits needed from the Maryland Department of the Environment, the county hosted a discussion with contractors and business owners who would be in line to bid on certain jobs.

Residents offer mixed opinions on Frederick incinerator

Opponents say it’s a financial risk; proponents argue it will generate jobs
A $527 million trash incinerator in Frederick County is a waste of taxpayers’ money, a financial risk, and is dangerous to the environment, according to opponents.

Analyst: Waste-to-energy not clean

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
A study released Thursday by an environmental group reported that waste-to-energy trash incinerators release lead and mercury at a greater rate than some coal-fired plants. With several trash-burning facility projects in the pipeline in Maryland, including one in Frederick County, the studys authors said state lawmakers need to firm up renewable energy standards. This report really shows that waste-to-energy incineration is not clean, and its not renewable, Robbie Orvis, report author and research analyst at the Environmental Integrity Project, said Thursday in a telephone news conference. We urge Maryland to reconsider the path its on to become the trash incineration capital of the United States.

Public decries waste-to-energy project

Frederick News Post
Patti S. Borda
Potential pollution, traffic and expense associated with a waste-to-energy incinerator drew a group of residents to a meeting Thursday with Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. and the Maryland Department of the Environment. Members of the public who attended the meeting were not convinced that the county plant will receive enough trash to make it profitable, and if it does they said too much material that could be recycled will be incinerated instead.

WTE debacle

Frederick News Post
David Herman
As a Republican, I am outraged that the "fiscally conservative" Board of County Commissioners is moving forward with an oversized, overpriced, unnecessary and polluting incinerator project. At a recent Maryland Department of the Environment informational meeting, the MDE made it clear that industry is on the "honor system" for reporting problems to them. In the case of Wheelabrator, this is not appropriate since it is a serial permit violator and subject of lawsuits by communities. The company simply pays the fines assessed and continues operations as usual while citizens must pay millions to breathe and drink the contamination. While Commissioner Billy Shreve did attend part of the recent MDE meeting, his attention was on his laptop rather than on the discussion. The entire BoCC appears to be asleep, to have not read the contract, and to continue the mistake of the previous board led by Jan Gardner -- who had very little understanding of the financial debt and pollution she was signing us up for.

Considering Wheelabrator

Frederick News Post
Michael Elmaleh
The proposed incinerator being considered by the Frederick County Commissioners is an extremely expensive ($520 million) and complicated technology that requires a great deal of technical expertise to operate efficiently. Wheelabrator has submitted a contract to maintain the plant. It is a "cost plus" contract: There is no set cap on management fees that the county may end up paying to operate the plant. The annual service fee to the company could be in the millions. I am a certified public accountant and certified valuation analyst, and my previous experience includes reviewing "cost plus" engineering contracts for the construction of wastewater facilities funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. While these engineering services were complex, they were relatively simple compared to the services that Wheelabrator proposes to provide the county. My observation on these contracts was that the localities were overbilled by millions of dollars due to government auditors' and administrators' failure to understand and enforce the complex procurement regulations that applied.

Commissioner questions size of proposed incinerator

Charles Schelle
Carroll County Commissioner Julia W. Gouge questions whether a proposed incinerator that Carroll is considering building with Frederick is too big. "We’re building a facility that is much larger than we need right now,” Gouge said. The proposal calls for the incinerator to be built in Frederick County, possibly near the Ballenger Creek-McKinney Wastewater Treatment Plant off Md. Route 85, with Carroll contributing $140 million to the $350 million project. The incinerator would handle 1,500 tons of trash per day, 600 tons of which would come from Carroll. However, Carroll only produces about 320 tons per day.