The company that was allowed to dump thousands of tons of chemically treated sludge in the city under a D.C. government contract this summer has encountered opposition to hauling the material to a private landfill in Prince George's County.
Frank P. Casula, the Democratic chairman of the county council, said yesterday that he intends to vote against the contractor's request for a permit to haul about 150,000 tons of the city's claylike "Chemfix" material from the Blue Plains waste-water treatment plant to an area east of Route 301 in Cheltenham.
"While everyone in the metro area is obligated to take some part of the sludge produced at the regional Blue Plains plant , it's very difficult to ask P.G. County to take sludge from some other jurisdiction," Casula said. "As an elected official, I've got problems with that."
Council member James Herl said that while he does not object in principle to the use of the Chemfix material as landfill, he feels that D.C. officials haven't made the case for another jurisdiction assuming part of its disposal resonsibility.
"The real issue isn't whether Chemfix is a good or bad process," he said. "The question is more one of how is Washington, D.C., going to make up for our helping them out, if we do."
The contractor, Jones & Artis Co./National Environmental Controls Inc., signed an $8 million-a year contract with the District on Aug. 13 to chemically treat and dispose of about 40 percent of the sludge that builds up at the regional plant--although the contractor then lacked access to a permanent dumping site.
The company previously had been allowed to dump Chemfix at a landfill operated by Prince George's County. But that permit was canceled last June after landfill operators complained that the material gave off a bad odor and was difficult to handle when it became wet, according to a county official.
Since then, about 54,000 tons of the Chemfix material has piled up at Blue Plains, in Southwest Washington, with no place to haul it. City officials, running out of space at the plant, authorized the company to dump at least 10,000 tons of Chemfix near the Fort Lincoln "new town" development in Northeast. Additional material was hauled to the grounds of St. Elizabeths Hospital and to a residential neighborhood, both in Southeast.
The nine-member Prince George's council is scheduled to consider the permit request at a regularly scheduled meeting next Tuesday. Both the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and County Executive Parris Glendening have approved dumping Chemfix at the Brandywine Rubble Landfill, provided that stringent environmental safeguards are observed.
Council members, however, appear to be reluctant to add to the county's waste-disposal headaches.
"In my opinion, the Chemfix company has not done an adequate job in terms of preparing the neighborhood for the importation of this material," said one council source. "My guess is the votes probably aren't there to approve it at the present."