The Prince George's County Council Tuesday strongly urged the chairman of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to "take any action required" to stop construction on the controversial sewage sludge plant at Calverton.
In a letter to the WSSC, the council conceded it may face contempt charges and even jail sentences for contradicting a recent federal court order to begin construction of the plant in Montgomery County near the Prince George's County line.
On June 27, U.S. District Judge John Lewis Smith Jr. ordered the the plant, which has been disputed since it was first proposed in 1977. Smith's order overruled a Prince George's County Circuit Court ruling.
Prince George's representatives have been fighting the plant since Smith's 1978 ruling that Montgomery must build a permanent facility to dispose of its share of sludge produced at the Blue Plains sewage facility in Washington. The county Council says the $34 millon plant is too costly and its smells, and possible health hazards are too close to 17,000 Prince George's County residents.
"From the moment this was brought to us we have been opposed to the purchase of Site 2 [the Calverton site] and we are going to try through every action, including facing possible contempt charges and a jail sentence, to stop it," said County Council Chairman Parris N. Glendening.
The dispute has been marked by charges that affluent Montgomery County, "the horsey set," as council member Gerard T. McDonough put it, was discriminating against Prince George's in attempting to locate the plant within a mile of its northwest border.
In the letter to WSSC Chairman Lawrence L. Brooks, the council noted that the Montgomery County council recently approved a temporary plant in northern Montgomery County similar to the one planned for Calverton, and said that they saw no reason why the Calverton plant needed to be built at all.
"Obviously, the next step should have been the cancellation of the Calverton project," said Glendening. "The WSSC general manager has already paid $6.6 million for the (Calverton) property at Judge Smith's direction. There is still $20 million for the right of way and construction. With the covenants attached to the property, the cost could rise $5 to $10 million more," he added.