It is very touching that Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer wants to preserve upper Montgomery County from development through a plan in which the county would purchase easements on rural open spaces. It is unclear, however, why development is not acceptable, while a new trash incinerator and possibly a landfill are. Could it be that Mr. Kramer wants to ensure that the upper county remains politically powerless to fight his environmental assault?
During Mr. Kramer's term, Montgomery County has seen taxes go up and the quality of life go down. He is sacrificing our environment in the name of a quick, convenient but monumentally expensive answer (a trash incinerator) to the county's trash problem. Is this necessary? What happened to Franklin and Associates' (the county's recycling consultants) original claim that 56 percent of the county's waste could be recycled with an aggressive approach, while 30 percent could easily be accomplished? Why were the first two drafts of the Franklin and Associates recycling plan returned, and what were the recycling goals in those drafts? Would an incinerator be necessary if we could reach a 56 percent goal?
Under the Kramer plan, the county would spend millions of dollars to build and operate a trash incinerator, while recycling only 22 percent of its waste. This plan would also bring a toxic dump to the county -- which, of course, would not be called toxic despite the toxicity of the ash. Mr. Kramer wants to locate the incinerator and a landfill in the most beautiful part of the county, the rural area around Sugarloaf Mountain. I thank him for preserving rural spaces for his uses!
For a small fraction of the cost of the incinerator, an aggressive approach to recycling could be taken that would achieve a reduction in waste comparable in volume to that of the incinerator. This approach would lessen requirements for a landfill while avoiding the production of toxic air emissions and toxic ash.
Why does Mr. Kramer insist on an incinerator when a safer and cheaper alternative exists? He must believe that a healthy environment is not as important as the possibility of a little inconvenience to county voters. Should his plan materialize, we will have the "Sidney Kramer Toxic Waste Site" in Montgomery County, a far cry from the "Sidney Kramer Forest" Israel got when Mr. Kramer was honored with some trees planted in his name!
JACK C. REID