Shelving WTE

Source: Frederick News Post
Article Type:
Date Published: 05/07/2009

The Frederick County Commissioners last week abandoned their deliberations on a proposed waste-to-energy facility. The WTE technology, which involves incinerating trash while producing electricity, had been for some time the board’s favored option to address the county’s solid waste disposal requirements in coming decades. The board cited a number of considerations in making its decision. Among the most influential were the huge cost of the WTE facility (in the $500 million to $600 million range), siting difficulties, pollution/health concerns, and public opposition that might generate costly lawsuits and push a solution further into the future. ome are characterizing the board’s vote as a self-serving, political decision by commissioners unwilling to make a tough, but correct, call. The lone vote to proceed down the WTE path was cast by Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr., who has publicly said that a pro WTE vote by any board member would be tantamount to signing his or her own political death warrant. That may be a bit dramatic and probably overstates the case. While the opponents of WTE have run a vocal, high-profile campaign, it’s clear that many others in the county supported the incinerator-based solution. The board’s vote didn’t actually kill the WTE option, but rather shelved it, removing it from current consideration in favor of other solutions. The alternatives the board will be investigating include increased/enhanced recycling and waste reduction, expanding the existing landfill, contracting to truck Frederick County’s solid waste to an existing WTE elsewhere, and alternative technologies such as anaerobic digestion.