State Del. Nathaniel Exum (D-Prince George's) has introduced a bill that could make it harder to use certain sewage sludge disposal methods in Maryland and possibly benefit the company he works for, according to officials of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Prince George's County.

The bill, which would give local governments veto power over state health permits issued to "spread or otherwise apply sewage sludge to land," may benefit sludge-disposal companies that treat the waste substance chemically before disposing of it. Other more commonly used and cheaper disposal methods get rid of the sludge by spreading it on the ground or injecting it underground at approved sites, according to the WSSC, the agency that provides sewer and water service to Washington's Maryland suburbs.

Exum, who presented the bill to the House Environmental Matters Committee today, said he introduced it to give local governments greater control over sludge disposal in their jurisdictions.

Exum lists himself on his financial disclosure form as a general superintendent employed by Jones and Artis Construction Co. Inc. of Landover. Jones and Artis is in a joint venture with a Louisiana firm, National Environmental Controls, to dispose of some sludge from Prince George's sewage produced by the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant in the District of Columbia, according to an official associated with the joint venture.

A chemical method is used to treat this sludge, according to Charles Reagan, an official of Chem Fix Technology, a firm under contract to treat the sludge for the joint venture.

Reagan said Chem Fix has been trying to win other contracts through the WSSC, but has been stymied because chemical treatment of sludge costs more than soil spreading or subsoil injection methods.

Exum said there is no conflict in his introducing the legislation because he is not a stockholder in Chem Fix.

Reagan said he had not seen Exum's bill. County officials familiar with the bill said it apparently does not necessarily give local jurisdictions veto power over methods using chemical treatment of sludge.

WSSC officials said they have one current contract to dispose of Prince George's sludge by subsoil injection in Kent County that could be jeopardized if Exum's bill passes, since the county commissioners there are opposed to the project.