Some residents who attended a Maryland Department of Environment permit hearing for a controversial waste-to-energy incinerator in Frederick have criticized the management of the forum, charging that participants weren’t given enough time to speak.
The discussion at Frederick’s C. Burr Artz Public Library Wednesday night drew about 100 supporters and opponents of the issue.
But after the hearing, held to get public comment on a permit to allow the facility to release water into the Potomac River, several expressed frustration that the MDE staff dominated too much of it, leaving too little time for those who came to voice their opinions.
The hearing began a few minutes after the scheduled 6 p.m. start time, and the public comment section didn’t begin until after 7 p.m.
“We were effectively cut off from an hour and 10 minutes of public opinion,” said Steve Bruns of Frederick, who opposes the project as outdated technology that would be a waste of money and a source of significant pollution.
The incinerator, which would be located next to a county wastewater treatment plant on Metropolitan Court in Frederick, is expected to cost $527 million, with Frederick County expected to pay about $316 million of that. The facility would be able to burn 1,500 tons of trash per day.
The incinerator would create electricity by using heat from the trash being burned, enough to power an estimated 45,000 homes.
The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, an independent agency that helps counties dispose of trash, will own the incinerator, while Frederick County will operate it and be responsible for its debt.
The county would also receive money from other counties that bring their trash to the facility. Carroll County was originally part of the project, but the Carroll County Board of Commissioners is considering abandoning the project. However, Prince George’s, Washington and Howard counties have all expressed interest in possibly partnering with Frederick County.
Anne Swink of Buckeystown said she had only found out about the meeting the day it was held, and thought there should have been more notice. There should also have been a larger venue than the community room of the library, she said.
Apart from not everyone who wanted to speak being able to do so, those who did had get a chance to testify had to rush through their remarks, said Eleanor Hettich, Swink’s neighbor in Buckeystown. Both women also oppose the project.
Written comments can still be submitted until Oct. 22, and carry the same weight as comments offered at the hearing, MDE spokeswoman Samantha Kappalman said Thursday.
The comment period for the water permit will also be reopened when a hearing on the facility’s air permit is held, Kappalman said. No date has been set for that hearing, and she couldn’t estimate when that would be.
Opponents of the incinerator made their voices heard before the meeting began, gathering in front of the library with signs and a bullhorn to denounce the incinerator project.
They expressed concern about the cost of the project, as well as pollution in the water that would be discharged into the Potomac River.
To obtain the permit, the facility would be subject to water-quality regulations, as well as monitoring and reporting requirements for its discharge.
Mary Posey of Myersville said she came out to support the project.
“You’re going to have people object no matter what idea you come up with for waste disposal,” she said.
Posey said her family tries to compost and recycle as much as possible, but the five of them still create about two bags of trash per week.
“I understand what they want us to do.... But most people that I know just want their trash to go away,” she said.
Rolan Clark of Adamstown said he believed MDE officials who said that the water released into the river would meet pollution requirements.
Written comments should be sent to the attention of Michael Richardson, Maryland Department of the Environment, 1800 Washington Blvd., Suite 455, Baltimore, MD 21230-1708.