Trash slimming for the budget-conscious
by Linda Norris-Waldt
If you were offered a way to control a cost that is a growing part of your family budget, would you take it? If there were a way to cut a cost that is in your control, and doesn’t require interference or force, but a decision to change the way you do a few things, would you do it?
If the change in behavior also benefittedyour family, your neighborhood or your larger community,would you consider it?
County scraps plans for waste-to-energy incinerator
The Board of County Commissioners struck down plans Thursday for a regional waste-to-energy incinerator, opting to haul the county’s waste to a landfill with a short-term contract instead.
In a 3-2 vote, Commissioners President Blaine Young and commissioners Kirby Delauter and David Gray voted to kill the $471 million incinerator project by canceling the contract and related permits. Commissioners Paul Smith and Billy Shreve cast the dissenting votes to keep the project on the table while the county explores its options. Read more
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Brunswick looks at pay-as-you-throw
Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2014 2:00 am
Frederick News-Post Editorial Board
Brunswick is investigating pay-as-you-throw as an alternative to its current traditional method of dealing with city residents’ trash.
We like how Brunswick officials are going about this.
Earlier this week, the city held an informational meeting at which an employee of WasteZero explained to those gathered how the system would work and why it would be good for them, the city and the environment. Read more
The incinerator project: Stick a fork in it
Posted: Saturday, October 11, 2014 2:00 am
| 12 comments
The $471 million incinerator project was almost declared dead Thursday after Frederick County commissioners reviewed a financial analysis report that concluded that hauling trash to out-of-state locations could be a lot cheaper than trying to burn it and convert it into electricity.
We say “almost” because, in an unusual twist, it turns out that Commissioner David Gray is actually the swing vote on whether or not the controversial project lives or dies. We scratched our heads and couldn’t recall another time in the past four years when Gray actually was a deciding vote in any major decision between the four other Republican commissioners with whom he constantly butts heads. Read more
BoCC to consider scrapping incinerator plan
at public hearing
FNP, Friday, October 10, 2014
Frederick County commissioners are divided over whether they should scrap plans for a regional waste-to-energy incinerator or leave the decision to the next group of elected leaders.
During a Thursday meeting, Commissioners President Blaine Young and Commissioner Kirby Delauter said they want to kill the $376 million construction project. Commissioners Paul Smith and Billy Shreve favored keeping the project on the back burner while the county explores other alternatives.
That puts Commissioner David Gray, often a lone voice of dissent on the board, in the unusual position of being the swing vote. He said he is unsure about the prudence of terminating the incinerator project and wants more public input before making a final decision.
After considering their options Thursday, the commissioners agreed to hold an Oct. 21 public hearing on the incinerator project’s fate. The meeting will also focus on other proposals for dealing with the county’s trash. Read more
Report: Landfilling county’s trash
would be cheaper than WTE options
Five incinerator alternatives will come before commissioners Thursday, including one landfilling option that would save the county 56-cents-per-ton compared to their current waste disposal contract.
A county staff report released today includes a recommendation that officials choose this option if they are interested in the lowest-possible disposal price. However, the cheapest vendor, which offered to deal with the county’s waste for $50.95 per ton, is only interested in a short-term contract, lasting only up to five years, according to the report. Under the existing trash disposal contract, which runs out in seven months, the county pays $51.51 per ton. Read more
Patrice Gallagher, President of No Incinerator Alliance meets with Rossano Ercolini, Chair of Zero Waste Europe (http://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/rossano-ercolini#showvideo) Mike Ewall, Energy Justice, Caroline Eader and Rodrigo Sabatini at the ZWIA International Dialogue conference in Nanaimo, Canada October 2-4.
Frederick should use more stick, less carrot
to whip up enthusiasm for recycling program
Posted: Saturday, September 13, 2014 2:00 am
It was disappointing — but not surprising — to learn that only half of Frederick’s residents even bother to take their blue recycling bins out to the curbs.
The city’s Board of Aldermen had been considering increasing the collection rate for recycling from twice a month to weekly.
But after reviewing the data earlier this week on how many residents actually recycle, the aldermen decided — wisely, we should add — to bag the idea, at least for now. The findings also make us want to reiterate our earlier position that the city should seriously consider adopting a “pay-as-you-throw” program that we’ll elaborate on in just a minute. Read more
Seeing low recycling rates, city won’t increase services
Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2014 2:00 am
About half of the time that a county recycling truck stops at a city of Frederick home, the blue recycling bin isn’t out on the curb, according to new data.
Looking at the data, the city’s Board of Aldermen agreed Wednesday it wouldn’t be worth it to send the trucks around more frequently. Read more
Starting today, the Frederick County Commissioners can walk away from the $471 million incinerator project without paying a penalty.
It’s politically tempting, particularly during an election year.
But we’re fairly certain the county commissioners know it might not be the wisest choice to take that card off the table — at least until they are reasonably sure they can continue to truck the county’s trash to outside locations more cheaply than burning it to generate energy at the facility, planned for a site just south of the city of Frederick near Monocacy National Battlefield. Read more
Pay as you throw
Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 2:00 am
| 14 comments
You only threw out maybe 20 pounds of trash this week. You were cautious. You picked through your waste and painstakingly dug out your recyclables, put them in the county cart, then dragged your bin to the curb. You even “pre-cycled,” finding ways to donate items you no longer use, reusing them a little longer, and not printing when you don’t have to, for example.
But next door, that same 65-gallon trash can outside your neighbor’s property is overflowing. And it’s not just trash spilling out, but cans, paper, glass and all other kinds of items that could have been removed and sent back to the recycling plant.
It’s dispiriting to see, not least because that bozo is paying exactly the same as you are through the county’s system benefit charge, levied annually, which pays for the county landfill at Reichs Ford Road, and is included on the county’s taxes and fees bill at a rate based on property value. Depending on whether you live in a town, city or the rest of the county, you’re also paying for collection, be it as a municipal service, as in Frederick, or contract, in many subdivisions with homeowner associations, or through a subscription service in other areas. In any case, Joe next door has no incentive to be conscientious about what he puts in that trash container. Read more
Incinerator plan looms over battlefield
Posted: Monday, July 7, 2014 2:00 am
By Patti Borda Mullins News-Post Staff
A 10-story incinerator building and a 270-foot-tall smokestack could be a new kind of assault on the fields where Union and Confederate troops shed blood in July 1864.
Rick Slade, Monocacy National Battlefield superintendent, shared cautious optimism recently that the waste-to-energy incinerator that could be built within view of the national park may be on its way out as an option under consideration by the county.
He said the 24-hour-a-day humming garbage burner would threaten tourism at the national park.
The county has planned to use the incinerator to dispose of its nonrecyclable solid waste, on a site not 300 feet from one of the park’s most popular trails, Slade said.
By Bethany Rodgers NewsPost Staff | Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014 2:00 am
BILL GREEN, FNP, PHOTOGRAPHER
The question of how to deal with trash doesn’t come down to burn or bury, say opponents of a Frederick County incinerator. On Wednesday night, candidates for state and local government heard about the other choices they’ll have if they become Frederick County’s next elected leaders.
For instance, food scraps could get composted. Local recycling programs could get a boost. County residents could get charged based on how much garbage they put on the curb.
All of these options could act as steps toward slashing the amount of trash sent to landfills, said presenters at the evening gathering.
The No Incinerator Alliance, a citizens group that has opposed building a waste-to-energy facility in Frederick County, organized the briefing to educate potential elected leaders about waste management. About 20 candidates for County Council attended the forum at Urbana Regional Library, many of them chiming in with questions about how government could execute the ideas under discussion. In addition, three of the four candidates for county executive were in attendance, with Blaine Young the only one absent. Read More
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Potomac Riverkeeper has filed a petition with the court pursuing legal action against Maryland Dept. of Environment for the permit issued to the incinerator project allowing wastewater from the project to be dumped daily into the Potomac River. Click here to see the notice of this legal action.
Incinerator project has few friends among county candidates
Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014 2:00 am By Bethany Rodgers News-Post Staff The waste-to-energy incinerator has lost a popularity contest among candidates for local office. The No Incinerator Alliance, an aptly named group that opposes building such a facility in Frederick County, recently polled contenders in the county executive and council races. Twenty-four of the 42 candidates in those races responded that they were against constructing a trash-burning facility inside the county. “We’re glad to see that such a large majority of the candidates for county council and county executive oppose this polluting boondoggle,” Ellis Burruss, vice president of the alliance, said in a statement. The Democratic candidates for county office seemed particularly cold toward the project; all but two of them participated in the survey, and those who did respond were unanimously opposed to building a facility. Many of the Republican hopefuls also weighed against the project or indicated they were undecided. Only county executive candidate Blaine Young and council candidates Ralph Whitmore, Dick Johnson and Justin Kiska voiced support for the waste-to-energy proposal. Read more
WTE up in smoke? FNP Editorial
Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014 2:00 am It comes as no real shock that neighboring Carroll County is officially bowing out of the proposed waste-to-energy partnership it had formed with Frederick County years ago. Carroll County has been signaling for months that it didn’t want to proceed with the agreement. Still, the official word that Carroll is out seems to have opened up a range of options for Frederick County regarding this controversial public works project. Among the most heartening is that a new memorandum of understanding among the key players permits Frederick County, after July 31, to extricate itself from this project — without incurring a penalty. The original agreement called for Frederick or Carroll county to pony up a $3 million penalty if it decided to quit the agreement. As it stands now, Carroll is on the hook for $1 million and Frederick can extricate itself without additional expense. Considering the controversy and uncertainty surrounding this project, we think that would be a favorable development. Read more
Carroll to pay $1 million to exit trash incinerator deal Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 6:00 pm | Updated: 6:56 pm, Tue Apr 22, 2014.
By Christian Alexandersen Times Staff Writer
County released from waste-to-energy partnership
Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 5:42 pm By Bethany Rodgers Staff writer, FNP Carroll County today was released from its partnership with Frederick County on building a regional waste-to-energy incinerator.
Climate impacts ‘overwhelming’ – UN BBC News
For Immediate Release No Incinerator Alliance reacts to issuance of MDE permits on Frederick/Carroll incinerator project February 26, 2014 Frederick, MD — “Citizens’ health will certainly be affected adversely as a result of these permits being issued,” said Patrice Gallagher, president of the No Incinerator Alliance (NIA), speaking of the permits issued last Friday by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). “People in Frederick County — and beyond — who suffer from asthma, emphysema or other breathing problems could even have their lives shortened if the Frederick trash incinerator is built.” From the Friday, February 21 MDE press release: “…a permit condition was added to limit fine particle emissions (to 100 tons for any consecutive 12-month rolling period). The facility will be required to conduct a stack test to confirm compliance.” That statement means this permit would allow over 550 pounds of fine particle pollutants pollution to be released from the incinerator every day. These are the kinds of fine particles that are so small they can reach the deepest parts of the lung and cross directly into the blood stream. They are especially dangerous to children, people over the age of 50, and people with respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and other ailments. Less than six months ago, Maryland Secretary of Environment Robert Summers, the leader of the MDE, pointed out that air pollution in Frederick County is at a dangerous level and can imperil the health of all county residents. However, while Secretary Summers expressed concern about air pollution from other states, his agency inexplicably has just issued permits that undoubtedly will worsen already dangerous air pollution and further imperil the health and lives of local residents. The incinerator — which the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority (NMWDA) and Wheelabrator propose to build right off English Muffin Way just south of Frederick City — will burn 1,500 tons a day of mixed trash, sewage sludge, and old tires (20,000 tons annually), most of which will be imported from outside Frederick County. Despite “state of the art” pollution controls, incinerators are major sources of highly toxic pollutants and carcinogens; chemicals that form ground-level ozone (smog); and lead, mercury, and other heavy metals. Because Frederick County’s local air is already so polluted and violates national health-based clean air standards (as Mr. Summers has pointed out), the hundreds of tons of nitrogen oxides emitted from the incinerator will require Frederick County taxpayers to purchase “pollution offsets” from other communities. “It’s completely Orwellian,” said Ellis Burruss, Vice President of the No Incinerator Alliance. “The State is issuing permits allowing an out-of-state corporation to build an incinerator that we don’t want and don’t need. This incinerator will further pollute our already dirty air and endanger our health. Then the State wants us to spend even more money buying so-called ‘pollution offsets’ from some community somewhere. Those offsets will do nothing to clean our air, but they will cost us more money.” The NIA expected that eventually the MDE would issue permits; MDE rarely denies a permit. Frederick County government officials have stated that when permits were issued, they would publish a revised financial analysis of the project, and NIA encourages the county government to do that. NIA’s position has always been: 1) the finances contained within the contracts among NMWDA, Wheelabrator, and Frederick and Carroll Counties do not make good sense for the counties’ taxpayers, and 2) there are dangers associated with the emissions into the air, land and water that the incinerator would foist upon the residents of our counties, and beyond, that are unacceptable. These financial and environmental impacts are completely unnecessary, because viable alternatives to incineration can take care of our waste much less expensively and with less harm to the environment and human health. The NIA website, www.no-incinerator.org, contains much additional information, and a letter that citizens can send to county officials to express their opinion about the incinerator. Contacts: Patrice Gallagher 301.471.3720 Ellis Burruss 301.834.5389 The No Incinerator Alliance is a membership organization in Frederick County that was set up by Frederick and Carroll citizens and others to stop the Frederick/Carroll incinerator project by educating citizens and community leaders about 1) the financial and environmental dangers of incineration, and 2) the many alternatives available for dealing with our waste stream.
Sick of Soot?*
* Table data from MDE permit application for the Frederick – Carroll county trash and tire incinerator
Permits approved for Frederick County incinerator project
Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014 12:15 am By Christian Alexandersen Times Staff Writer
ncinerator in Frederick County. The current five-member Carroll County Board of Commissioners worked to avoid building the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator project with Frederick. The board previously set aside $3 million to pay the penalty fee that would be needed only if Frederick could not find a replacement for Carroll’s 40 percent partnership in the incinerator.
“County staff will be studying the permits during the 10-day review period in concert with Frederick County and the Northeast Waste Disposal Authority and will advise the commissioners once the review is complete,” according to a prepared release from Carroll County government.
“Efforts to remove Carroll County government from this agreement remain on-going during this review period and the county continues to believe a reasonable solution that will address each party’s position will be obtained.” Read more
Permits issued for incinerator
Finances, partnerships under review in proposed waste-to-energy project By PATTI S. BORDA News-Post Staff firstname.lastname@example.org With permits newly issued, Frederick County’s proposed wasteto- energy incinerator is several steps closer to construction, if the partners decide to proceed. The Maryland Department of the Environment issued the permits Friday for the soil, water and air emissions the incinerator is allowed to generate. The state would not issue permits unless the facility can operate in a way that meets public health standards, said Jay Apperson, department spokesman. The plant is intended to generate electricity as it burns trash and replace Frederick County’s landfill and long-hauling trash disposal operations. The incinerator is designed to handle 1,500 tons of trash a day — 900 from Frederick County and 600 from partner Carroll County. Read more
Editorial: Trash future murky
Even with questions arising over whether a contract period has expired for construction of a waste-to-energy facility, Carroll’s Board of County Commissioners should increase efforts to find a replacement partner or taxpayers could still end up on the hook for paying a $3 million penalty.
Opponents to the trash incinerator project that Carroll and Frederick counties partnered to construct are pointing to a clause in the contact that relates to construction commencement, and say that since the Jan. 21 deadline passed without construction beginning, the parties involved can terminate the contract with no penalty.
Carroll commissioners seeking more clarification on incinerator contract
Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014 12:15 am By Christian Alexandersen Times Staff Writer
Carroll County commissioners and their attorneys are trying to determine if a missed contract deadline will allow them to avoid paying a $3 million penalty fee after deciding not to partner in building a waste-to-energy incinerator with Frederick County. The issue surfaced this week when Caroline Eader, a Frederick resident and opponent of the incinerator, sent an email to Frederick and Carroll officials regarding the project’s contract. Eader pointed officials to a portion of the contract that she interpreted to mean that if the “Construction Commencement Date Conditions” have not been met by Jan. 21, 2014, the contract can be terminated and there would be no penalty fees.
Carroll County Commissioner Rothschild tells it like it is regarding the incinerator finances
EXPRESS YOUR OPINION: Click the TAKE ACTION button at right to send a letter to the Board of County Commissioners. Click our Petition button to sign the petition.
Let Voters Decide
News-Post EDITORIAL, August 21, 2013
A small group of county residents has filed a new lawsuit to block the county’s sale of Montevue Assisting Living and Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center to a private, for-profit company. Those who filed the complaint in Frederick County Circuit Court last Friday all have a personal or emotional connection with the institutions. They include two current residents of Montevue; two member of the institutions’ former board of trustees, which the Frederick County Commissioners dissolved earlier this year; donors to the two institutions; a relative of a Montevue resident; a neighbor who lives next to the facilities; and a descendent of Elias Bruner, who sold the Montevue property to the county in 1828, the deed of which stipulated that the property was to be used only to benefit the poor. The suit consists of five counts, among them that the county lacked the legal authority to privatize the institutions, that doing so would deprive the community’s of its safety net for the poor, and that the two facilities had not been given a reasonable opportunity to becomefinancially self-sufficient. Every indication we have it that county residents, on balance, believe these institutions are a credit to the community and a worthwhile use of the small percentage of taxpayer money that they require. We support that position. When asked by News-Post reporter Bethany Rodgers about the suit’s complaints, county attorney John Mathias refuted their validity, one by one. We’ll all have to wait and see what the court thinks of these complaints. Beyond that, however, we would like to see this sale put on hold until Frederick County’s new charter government is installed in December of next year. This decision can certainly wait that long. We believe that a decision on the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator should also be postponed until then. Both Citizens/Montevue and the controversial WTE project have attracted many dedicated opponents. This opposition seems to have grown larger and more vocal over time. At this point, pushing through either one of these proposals appears counter to public will. As with other important issues, each candidate for the new government will be questioned about his or her stance on these highinterest issues. On election day, voters will know what each candidate’s position is, and can then vote accordingly. Why not put these decisions in the hands of Frederick County voters? Let them decide whether they want their county to retain the historic service for the poor that Citizens/Montevue provides, and whether they want to embrace WTE as the county’s principal method of solid waste disposal. Neither of these issues is so urgent that it cannot wait until next year for a resolution. In the meantime, Citizens/Montevue can continue striving for its goal of financial self-sufficiency, the wisdom of choosing WTE can be further evaluated, and additional options to incineration can be explored.
Rats Invade Quiet Neighborhood Surrounding Covanta
Niagara Falls Reporter | AUG 06, 2013 By Frank Parlato
There is a problem with rats. Near the Covanta Energy Plant. And neighbors are complaining. What would you do if it happened to you? We drove to the neighborhood and stopped on Stephenson Avenue near 56th Street . Right near Covanta. This is a quiet, modest neighborhood. But to live in it now, now that rats have taken over, is disquieting. The black rat, the brown rat. The Norway rat. Since 1980, Covanta Niagara, L.P., a subsidiary of Covanta Energy Corp. of New Jersey, at 100 Energy Blvd. and 56th Street in Niagara Falls, has been converting municipal waste into renewable energy, which, it is said, benefits the power needs of local businesses like Occidental, Goodyear, Norampac, Niacet and Praxair. Their incinerator burns 800,000 tons of garbage each year. It comes from various places as rotting, festering, stinking garbage and they burn it. And sky borne, the smoke fills the air. They burn garbage from as far as Toronto . And turn it into steam. Every day 300 trucks come loaded with garbage and rats come along for the ride. We walked by a few houses and down the alley between 57th and 56th Streets. There were dead rats. Some were so far decaying they looked brown and rotting, lumps of carcass, hair and bones sticking through like little chopsticks. Surrounded by flies and maggots. They were eager to talk this Thursday, early Summer evening. Neighbors came out when they saw us. All, it seems, are aware of the problem. One of the neighbors, Rhonda Grose has lived on Stephenson for 14 years, “They ruined my pond, dug trenches in my gardens, under my porch and my shed. I watched them from the dining room lifting lids on metal garbage cans in my driveway to get at the garbage. Rats,” she said. “My house smells like a dead rat,” said a man who was with her. “They are all over the place.” “I’ve seen them in my backyard literally like a parade,” said Maureen, a resident of 20 years. “My kids used to put up a tent in the backyard. No way now,” said Darlene, a resident of 57th Street . Was anyone bitten? No. Not yet. It’s only a matter of time. … As we walked with neighbors, we saw more dead rats. Some were killed in traps. Other poisoned. Others shot by pellet guns. Neighbors have taken into their own hands. Pity the poor rats. In a warm nest of garbage, on a garbage truck. Maybe it was Toronto or Amherst . The truck moves. The rats are riding, plump in their garbage, from Amherst to Niagara . Now it comes to Covanta. Dumped. Soon to be burned. The rats flee. Avoiding a midnight burn. Out into the streets. Down Stephenson, running, seeking a place to hide. Up the alleyway. … We stopped and stood in the alley now, a dozen people with us now. “I lived in my home for 15 years and, until two years ago, I never had anything but an occasional field mouse,” a woman said. “Last night I found a feral cat hiding in the tree behind my property. I think it’s because it’s safer there than being on the ground. Rats roam at night. When I sit on my back porch I tap my feet the whole time to keep the rats from coming and running across my feet.” … Who do you think it is? “Covanta,” they all said at once. Lady: “I got a friend that worked over there. They personally called him in to do work, because the rats were up in the ceilings, and he had to remodel the ceilings of the Covanta building.” … Man: “You see trucks drive long distance with garbage. I was talking to the drivers, and they said they find rats in them a lot. My cousin is a heavy equipment operator and union hall would send them up here. And he had the job of pushing the garbage out of the truck to the dump here, in a pile, where they get ready to burn it. And in the winter time especially it was worse, because rats are looking for warmth. Garbage trucks are warm inside when they sit overnight. and there’ll be at least five rats in almost every truck. Now imagine how many trucks are coming in and dumping here every day. And they don’t come from just here. They come from Tonawanda , Amherst , Kenmore , Canada . So you know there are rats in that stuff. Now it’s summer. They are running all over the place. They are chewing holes in the walls. I went to the basement to do laundry and I see the hole. I set a trap and caught it. I had to put new siding, mortared the sill, put in a new sill, new wood, put the siding back up to keep them out. I found a rat as big as my shoe. About a foot. Tail to head.” Another man: “I’ve seen them jump off garbage trucks…” Last Friday, Grose petitioned their neighbors from 57th Street and Stephenson Avenue to 63rd Street , collecting 248 signatures. The petition read: “We would like to stop Covanta from bringing in more garbage and rats. We would like Covanta and the New York state DOT to end the current rat infestation in our neighborhoods and help us control the rat population in the future.” On Monday they brought that to City Hall.
Carroll preparing to pay $3 million penalty fee to avoid building incinerator
By Christian Alexandersen | Carroll County Times Staff Writer | Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 2:34 pm While the Carroll County Board of Commissioners still hopes to avoid building a proposed waste-to- energy incinerator project with Frederick County, it has begun preparing itself to pay a $3 million penalty fee. The board voted 3-1, with Commissioner Doug Howard abstaining, to set aside $3 million to pay the penalty fee that would be needed only if Frederick cannot find a replacement for Carroll’s 40 percent partnership in the incinerator. The $3 million penalty would come from the county’s Fiscal Year 2013 reserve for contingencies fund. Thursday morning’s decision by the board came on the heels of an argument between Commissioners Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, and Howard, R-District 5. Howard wanted to set aside $3 million and have it used if Frederick County does not find a replacement partner by Sept. 30, 2014, which is about a week before the board’s term ends. The board, Howard said, had spent enough time waiting and it was appropriate for them to set a firm deadline. “[What I am not comfortable with] is that somehow, a future board picks up a project that is absolutely where it was the day we walked into office and can simply, in a matter of moments, incur a $200-plus million obligation for the citizens of Carroll County,” Howard said. “We were elected to deal with this issue and I believe it needs to be dealt with today.” Rothschild argued that setting a deadline would ensure that Frederick County would not seriously look for partners until after it received $3 million from Carroll. By waiting and not setting a deadline, Frederick County may find a partner to take Carroll’s place, he said. “Stating a date for termination will be counterproductive, it will simply encourage them to delay,” Rothschild said. “Setting the deadline right now will guarantee that no one will take our position before that deadline.” In April 2008, the former three-member Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted in favor of forming a partnership with Frederick County to seek out a proposal for a 1,500-ton-per-day incinerator to be shared by the two counties. The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority in December 2008 chose a proposal by Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. to build a waste-to-energy incinerator. In 2009, Carroll’s former three-member board chose to go forward with the incinerator project and signed a memorandum of understanding with Frederick County. Comptroller Rob Burk said on Thursday that the $3 million penalty fee will go to the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority to fulfill financial obligations to Wheelabrator.
FREDERICK COUNTY IGNORES MAJOR FLAWS IN FINANCIAL PLAN FOR INCINERATOR
There are a number of major problems with the Waste-to-Energy, or incinerator, plan developed by the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority (the Authority) and still supported by the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners. The plan does not make good sense or good policy because it will increase the cost of trash disposal and will deplete Frederick County’s Reich’s Ford landfill faster. And Frederick County taxpayers will see their system benefit charges increase, perhaps significantly, to cover the increased cost.
In a letter dated June 28, 2012, Carroll County Board of Commissioners signaled their intent to withdraw from the partnership with Frederick County. Therefore, absent a replacement County, the entire financial burden will fall to Frederick County taxpayers.
The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, which wrote all the contracts governing this project, is a self-supporting public corporation of the State of Maryland and does not receive appropriations. By design, the Authority must fund their operations by charging fees for their services. Under the current plan and contract, if the regional Waste-to-Energy incinerator is built in Frederick County, the Authority will receive approximately $20 million in fees over the expected 30 year life of the service contract. In addition, the Authority charges counties an annual membership fee. Last year Frederick County’s fee was $125,000.00, and that is scheduled to increase by $50,000 per year for the next several years.
If the incinerator is constructed, the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority will own it.
Construction of the facility will be financed by revenue bonds issued by the Authority. Then Frederick County will be contractually required to pay off the debt over thirty years.
The mass burn incinerator will have a capacity of 1,500 tons per day or 547,500 tons per year. The guaranteed throughput is 503,700 tons per year. Under the current two-county agreement, Frederick County would be responsible for 60% of that capacity, or more than 300,000 tons per year. Currently, however, Frederick County generates only about 165,000 tons of trash per year, with 15,000 tons buried in Reichs Ford Landfill and 150,000 tons hauled to an out-of-county landfill.
The Authority is working under contracts on behalf of Frederick and Carroll County and is the contracting officer for the incinerator project. And when the facility begins operation, the Authority intends to import about 350,000 tons of trash per year into Frederick County for burning at this facility. The source of this trash has not yet been determined.
Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc. was the successful bidder on the contract to build the facility, and to operate it for at least the first 20 years, with two 5-year options under the existing Service Contract with the Authority.
Wheelabrator will bill the Authority for its expenses. The Authority pays Wheelabrator and bills the counties.
System Benefit Charges, which are included as part of all county property tax bills, are a significant source of the revenue for the facility.
The Authority’s financial plan consists of several pages of spreadsheets showing estimated revenue and cost projections. The financial plan is identified as Conservative Electric Full Plant. Most of the cost is fixed by contract. Revenue can vary substantially based on the market prices for electricity and recovered metals.
There are several other contracts between the Authority and the counties, including the Energy Recovery Agreements; the Memorandum of Understanding; and the Project Site Lease Agreement (with Frederick County only).
The most significant issues regarding this project are financing, the disposal of incinerator ash, projected savings, and premature plant obsolescence.
NEA plans to issue $462 million worth of bonds to finance construction. NEA estimated debt service at $28 million per year over 30 years for a total of $840 million in principal and interest.
Frederick County claims it is not their debt. Technically, the debt belongs to the Authority because they issued the bonds. However, the County is required by Section 4.1 of the Energy Recovery Agreement to make debt service payments to the Authority for 30 years. Therefore, in effect, the debt does belong to the County.
Frederick County officials assert that outside jurisdictions bringing trash to the incinerator will backhaul their own ash. Their assertion is contradicted by existing contracts. The contracts signed by a previous Board of County Commissioners commit the county to disposing of ash, including ash from imported trash, in the Reichs Ford Landfill at County expense.
As of June 2013, the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority and Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc have not yet obtained the required permits. And yet, according to Frederick County, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has already required additional air quality control equipment, above and beyond Wheelabrator’s original proposal, that will add $25 million to the cost of the facility. History strongly suggests that more stringent regulatory requirements in the future will necessitate additional expenditures for pollution control equipment over the life of the contract. Some of these could be very substantial.
A significant part of the justification for building an incinerator is the Authority’s projected cost savings over the current practice of hauling trash out of county, over the next thirty years. The Authority has claimed that Carroll County would save $229 million by using the incinerator. That assertion is false. A better – and more honest – estimate reveals that it will likely cost Carroll County at least $100 million more to use the incinerator. The projected savings are false because the Authority has inflated the projected revenues from the sale of electricity for the incinerator, while also overstated the cost of continuing to haul waste out of the county.
In 2012, Frederick County paid less that $8 million to long haul its trash out of state. For some additional perspective, in Fiscal Year 2012 alone, Montgomery County paid the Authority $41.4 million to cover the cost of operating the incinerator in Dickerson. Frederick County can expect to see similarly high payments to the Authority if the incinerator is built.
Time to junk trash-to-energy programs like one in Newport?
St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press Saturday, June 22, 2013 By Bob Shaw
Wheelabrator agrees to pay $7.5 million to resolve multiple environmental violations
From Staff reports May 02, 2011 Saugus —The following joint press release comes from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Office of the Attorney General The operator of three Massachusetts municipal waste incinerators has agreed to pay $7.5 million to resolve allegations that it emitted ash through holes in the roofs of two of its buildings, failed to properly treat and dispose of its ash, repeatedly dumped wastewater into a surrounding wetland, and failed to report a sudden release of hazardous material to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). Wheelabrator Saugus and Wheelabrator North Andover allegedly committed multiple violations of the Hazardous Waste Management Act by failing to properly treat and dispose of ash, and the Clean Water Act by failing to contain fugitive ash. Wheelabrator Millbury and Wheelabrator Saugus allegedly committed violations of the Clean Water Act and the Wetlands Protection Act by releasing ash contaminated water and ash sludge into waterways or wetlands. “Corporate responsibility is paramount if we want to preserve our communities and maintain the beauty and safety of our Commonwealth,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “We are grateful to those who initially raised concerns with us about Wheelabrator, and are pleased that Wheelabrator has taken the steps needed to set its three facilities on a safe path for the future. Working together with MassDEP, we have reached a settlement that will ensure continuing environmental oversight of these facilities as well as a return of dollars to both state and local budgets and help for the affected communities.” The Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force launched an investigation into violations by Wheelabrator in September 2009 after two individuals, one current and one former employee of Wheelabrator Saugus, approached the Attorney General’s Office over concerns about environmental violations at the Saugus facility. A third individual, an employee of Wheelabrator North Andover, brought additional information about violations at the North Andover facility to the attention of the AG’s Office in July 2010. “Municipal waste collection is an important public service, but waste incineration triggers many important environmental regulations, and strict compliance with those regulations is required in order to ensure that the public health is protected,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. “Wheelabrator fell far short of meeting some of the most basic requirements and the settlement today, which is the highest ever for a state case arising out of environmental violations, reflects the seriousness with which MassDEP takes this requirement. Protecting public health and the environment must be priority one for Wheelabrator from this day forward.”
Conservatives Speak Out Against WTE Incinerator – Hough, Mooney Disagree with Local Party Mates
Delegate Michael Hough and former state Sen. Alex Mooney consider themselves conservative Republicans, but neither sides with the all-Republican Board of County Commissioners on the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator project in Frederick County. Both continue to publicly oppose the plan, with Hough writing to the Maryland Department of the Environment last week and Mooney using his radio show this weekend to highlight the problems with burning trash.
- The proposed trash incinerator plans are based on financial, technological, and environmental assumptions that are inaccurate, out of date, misleading, or false.
To deal with its trash (also called solid waste), Frederick County currently operates its own waste transfer station and landfill.