The Oaks Sanitary Landfill is no threat to the health or safety of the people of Laytonsville. That is the judgment of county scientists, engineers and the nationally eminent consulting firm of Dames & Moore. That is the judgment of the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The design of the landfill exceeds the basic standards for any landfill in the state. We do not economize on protection of our citizens.
Montgomery County generates 1,400 tons of solid waste, enough to cover a football field a yard deep, each day. This waste is deposited in the Rockville landfill, which a 1977 amended order of the state health department requires us to stop using by next June. That same state directive ordered the county to find a new site. This is the origin of The Oaks site that is being contested by some Laytonsville citizens.
The site selection process was both arduous and expensive--costing over $2.5 million--and weighed such factors as technical and permit requirements, the community, health and environmental impacts and economic considerations. Depth of the ground water table, soil permeability, soil thickness and locations of streams are but a few of the many physical criteria that were considered. Major emphasis was on protection of surface and ground water from potential pollution.
In July 1978, the consultants recommended sites near Laytonsville (S-55B) and near Potomac (S- 135/271). Public hearings on both sites began in September of that year. The consultant's report was placed in libraries throughout the county.
The state recommended denial of the Potomac site. In May 1979, after extensive hearings in which opponents cross-examined the county witnesses and presented their own expert witnesses, the state issued a permit for use of the Laytonsville site, later called "The Oaks." The decision was appealed to the courts and the permit issuance was sustained. My predecessor authorized its purchase and advanced road improvements leading to the site and a transfer station to alleviate the traffic impact in the vicinity of the landfill.
After my election, I reviewed the decision selecting only the proposed Oaks Landfill. I commissioned an ad hoc citizens task force that included residents of Laytonsville. It recommended considering the Rockville Crushed Stone Quarry as an alternative to The Oaks. A $350,000 technical study revealed that the physical conditions of the quarry made it unsuitable for future landfill development, a finding concurred in by the state.
The Oaks remains the single identified site in the county with the physical qualities that the experts have concluded can safely sustain a landfill process. Montgomery County has spent close to $40 million in the last four years to solve this solid waste problem and to prepare The Oaks for operation. According to the experts, it will be the most sophisticated and technically advanced landfill in the entire state.
Nobody welcomes waste facilities into the neighborhood--not Rockville, where the exhausted landfill has existed for over two decades and which does not begin to have the environmental safeguards of The Oaks; not Potomac, where the Rock Run Wastewater Treatment Plant is scheduled; not Dickerson, where the interim composting facility is located; not Calverton, near the sophisticated compost facility under construction; and not Laytonsville, where The Oaks is located. The county has to make decisions on a countywide basis, and we in government do not expect to be congratulated for a site selection by the nearby community. A community has the right to object, and its arguments must be respected and evaluated. This has been done by objective county and state staffs of experts.
Many residents of Laytonsville are unnerved by the allegations of danger and the character of the dialogue. As for charges that the county has withheld information concerning The Oaks, this is simply not true. Citizens and their experts and attorneys have pored over the state's and county's files for more than four years. We are trying to inform citizens newly involved in this controversy by continuing to get out the facts, including placing all relevant documents in the Gaithersburg library and establishing a telephone hot line (251-2383) to receive questions.
Even in Montgomery County, decisions must finally be made. The decision on the new landfill has been made. The process has been upheld by the courts. The decision must be put into effect.