MDE took testimony on three permits for the waste to energy facility.
A large number of people were in the auditorium at Tuscarora High Wednesday night as the Maryland Department of the Environment held a hearing on the proposed waste to energy plant to be located at the McKinney Industrial Park off of Route 85 south of Frederick.
Many of the citizens who testified were opposed to the facility,and several were wearing stickers which read "No Incinerator" and "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost." A majority are concerned about the pollutants being emitted into the air. "PCB's, dioxin, formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and more," said Steve Bruns. "And all these poisons are accumulated in our environment, everywhere we go, everywhere in the country. It doesn't have to be this way. It has to stop somewhere. Let it stop here."
Because of these pollutants, some residents were concerned about the impact it could have on their neighbors, especially children. "The incinerator will be located within in three miles of seven schools, and four daycare facilities, exposing thousands of children to the emissions noted," said Joan Twigg. "Alternatives are available for solid waste disposal. They cost less and are better for the environment."
Many of the speakers suggested a more aggressive program of recycling. "Currently, San Francisco is at 80% recycling, and will reach 100% in the next 15 years, as presented this week on the 'PBS News Hour.' If a very large city can manage with 80% recycling, why can't Frederick County," said Susan Sanders, to applause of the audience.
Each citizen who signed up was given three-minutes to speak. But Gary Thuro went over that time. As he was reading the mission statement of MDE, he was interrupted by an agency employee, who told him his time was up. He responded. "I didn't get to speak the last time; I'm going to take another 30-seconds." He also said "I can over talk. I don't care." Some in the audience mentioned that elected officials were given more time to speak, but everyone else was limited to three-minutes. Thuro did get in the last word. "If you approve these permits, you've failed your mission. So I'm asking you to do your job and disapprove these permits," he said to the applause of the audience.
If the waste to energy plant is approved by MDE, it will be owned by the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, and operated by Wheelabrator Technologies based in New Hampshire. "This facility will be completely safe. It's going to meet the most stringent state and federal environmental standards," says Mark Lyons, Project Vice President for Business Development at Wheelabrator. "The facility will be strictly regulated, and very strictly and carefully monitor. And the facility will have absolutely no impact on the public health and the environment."
During the hearing, Wheelabrator came under strong criticism, with one speaker saying it was a "carpetbagger" which is "out for the money." If the permits are approved, Lyons says Wheelabrator will reach out to the community. "We encourage people to tour the facility once it's built. They'll see how quiet, and safe and pretty it is, and it will be a very good neighbor for Frederick County," he says.
MDE was actually holding one hearing for three permits on Wednesday night: for air and water quality, and land management, something which made a few of the speakers unhappy.
The department says it will hold the record open until March 20th for citizens who didn't get a chance to testify on Wednesday night. It's expected to rule on the application in the next few months.
The facility, expected to cost $386-million, was a joint venture between Frederick and Carroll Counties, with Carroll paying for 40% of the cost, and Frederick taking on 60%. But there are indications Carroll County may drop out.
Supporters say the waste to energy plant will help save on Frederick County landfill space, and generate electricity at the same time. Lyons with Wheelabrator says it could create 51 megawatt hours per day, with 45-megawatt hours per day going to Potomac Edison, and rest being used to run the facility.
In addition to fouling the air, opponents say it will pollute the water and spoil the views at the Monocacy National Battlefield.