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Monday, November 17, 2008

Cost-Benefit Analysis Needed Before Spending 300+ Million for Incinerator in Frederick County, MD

George Wenschhof

Tomorrow, Frederick County, Maryland Commissioner Kai Hagen will make a presentation on an alternative to the building of an Incinerator as a means to handle future waste disposal in the county.

For what seems to be several years now, the majority of the local Board of Commissioners have favored the construction of a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant - the new name for an Incinerator.

Funds were initially spent on a study, culminating in a presentation which I happened to catch as I was channel surfing on TV about a year and a half ago. It was a impressive power point presentation. I was struck by the fact it was obviously prepared to promote the building of an Incinerator, even though none have been built in the United States in more than a decade.

Reportedly, expense has also gone into soliciting Bids for the site location as well as for the construction of the facility. Even discussions with neighboring Carroll County officials took place concerning joint usage of the facility. It appeared an Incinerator which also produces some electricity was on the way to becoming a reality.

The only thing standing in the way were a few citizens asking questions. Initial questions were asked by community activists Sally Sorbello and Janet Wiles. Caroline Eader and countless others have also joined the conversation asking why alternatives to an Incinerator have not been taken seriously by the Frederick County Board of Commissioners. Likely, as a result of these conversations, "No Incinerator" signs have been popping up in Homeowner yards across Frederick county.

Joining this opposition to the construction of an Incinerator was sole Frederick County Commissioner Kai Hagen. What followed has sometimes been a less than pleasant discussion between those who favor and those who oppose the construction of an Incinerator.

Realizing this was a important Frederick County issue, I offered both Board President Jan Gardner, who favors the building of an Incinerator and Kai Hagen the opportunity to write a series of columns on this issue which I would publish on my website. Both commissioners wrote lengthy columns on their positions and I appreciated them taking the time to do so. Links to their columns can be found in the upper right hand margin of the website.

In addition to reading those columns, I have been included in countless email exchanges of information and read numerous forum entries in regard to the issue of waste disposal in Frederick County.

Both sides have indicated the existing landfill has approximately a six year life span. Both sides also appear to agree a landfill will be necessary to accommodate a certain percentage of waste regardless of whether an Incinerator is built.

What seems to be a more cost effective method would be to begin a materials recovery facility on the existing landfill. This would extend the life span of the landfill while another site is located for the development of a resource recovery park. During this time period, increased recycling methods could also be instituted in the community.

Before spending 300+ million on a Incinerator, the Frederick County Commissioners should prepare a cost-benefit analysis on an alternative method of waste disposal. At a time when the entire nation is suffering from a major economic downturn, it is important to make informed decisions on expenditures to be included in the county budget.

They may just find they can save taxpayers money while still providing the community with an effective means for waste disposal.


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1 comment:

Kai said...

A few details about tomorrow...

Presentation by Commissioner Kai Hagen:

“A different way of evaluating the economic impact and options regarding Waste-to-Energy and Solid Waste Management.”

...followed by discussion among the county commissioners, then public testimony.

Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Time: 1:30pm - 4:30pm (estimated)


Winchester Hall
12 East Church Street
Frederick, MD