The Montgomery County Council this week moved a step closer to delaying by one year the date for implementation of a mandatory deposit on all beverage containers. The council will introduce a resolution favoring the delay at its legislative session next month.
The law creating the deposit, passed in late 1975, was to take effect Jan. 1, 1978. The council recently introduced two bills, one that would delay the implementation and one to repeal the deposit law. Council President John L. Menke said earlier that he wanted to see if other jurisdiction, including the cities of Gaithersburg and Rockville, were interested in pursuing identical legislation.
Currently, Fairfax County is the only local jurisdiction with a deposit law.
The council this week also agreed to introduce legislation that would set up a citizen task force to examine the feasibility of a redemption center for containers.
Menke and Cristeller had noted in a memo on the redemption centers that ". . . requiring all retailers to redeem containers (whether reusable or not) causes many negative impacts on their operations." Space limitations and health hazards were among them, they said.
Christeller said additional studies and the delay of the deposit implementation date were necessary.
"I think the news stories will stay this is a retreat," he said, "whereas it's really a facing of facts. We're studying the redemption center process and we want meetings with the Rockville city council and with the Gaithersburg city council. I think the redemption center might help them decide to do this as well."
W. Edward Gregory, a public relation representative for Pepsi Cola, said that there should be alternatives to the mandatory deposit law and that the idea of a redemption center was a good one.
The council decided not to take action this week on the proposed move of the Office of Landlord/Tenant Affairs to Environmental Protection. Council vice-president Elizabeth Scull said she favored another work session.
"Theproposed move grew out of spirited disagreements between Tom Hamilton (from OLTA) and Fran Abrams (from DEP). It would be difficult for us to decide what will happen unless we have a work session with Abrams and Hamilton," Scull said. No work session has been scheduled yet.
In another development, several Washington-area jurisdictions have been named in a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit for violating a 1974 court-sanctioned agreement stating that the jurisdictions had to choose a long-term plan for disposing of treated sewage (sludge) by July 1976.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington last week on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency. The District, Montgomery, Prince George's and Fairfax Counties and the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission were named as violators of the 1974 Blue Plains Sewage Treatment Plant Agreement.
If the areas do not reach an agreement by today's hearing, the suit says, the court will specify what should be done immediately.
Previously, the counties took turns disposing of sludge. Montgomery now buries its sludge in trenches near New Hampshire and Ednor Roads, a site that will be filled by the end of December. Montgomery had expected Prince George's trench sludge for about six months after that, a move that has not been guaranteed by P.G. county.
Martha Nudell, spokeswoman for the Prince George's County Council, said county officials had no comment on the lawsuit. Fairfax County already disposes of its small portion of sludge from the Blue Plains plant, D.C. has no land available to dispose of its share of the treated sewage.
A Justice Department attorney noted that this was the third time Montgomery County had been sued ". . . to take care of their sludge."