The District of Columbia government told a U.S. judge again yesterday that it has no place inside the D.C. borders to dispose of its daily share of 900 tons of sludge from the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant.
In a special report filed with U.S. District Judge John Lewis Smith Jr. at his request, the city government said the only sites it could use for sludge disposal are on the D.C.-owned land in Prince George's County and in Fairfax.
Those jurisdictions are among several in the Washington metropolitan area that have announced opposition to any plan by D.C. to dispose of its sludge in their areas. The District of Columbia's formal suggestion of such sites again is likely to stir a controversy at a court session scheduled on the issue before Judge Smith later this week.
Attached to the report was a resolution of the D.C. City Council asserting that the position of the other governments concerning the disposal of sludge on D.C. property within their jurisdictions "is unacceptable."
City attorneys said there are no suitable sites for disposal of sludge within the District of Columbia and that the city had reviewed 25 possible locations before making that determination.
Pointing out that the city is "land-limited," attorneys for D.C. said that "it is of particular note that the District of Columbia is already making a substantial contribution to the solution of the waste water treatment problem of this metropolitan region" by operating the Blue Plains plant that handles sewage for the metropolitan area.
The District of Columbia suggests that it build a composting facility on a site it owns at Muirkirk, Md., near Beltsville. During the several months that the faciliity would be under construction, sludge would be buried at the same site, the city said.
In addition, the city suggests that for the next year simultaneous use of District of Columbia land at the Lorton correctional complex in Fairfax County.
The Muirkirk site could not accept sludge until Oct. 1 of this year. The site where sludge currently is being trenched cannot be used after Sept. 21. The trenching operation currently is conducted at Cheltenham in Prince George's.
For that nine-day period, the District of Columbia government suggests that the federal government "assume the short-term responsibility" for disposing of the city's sludge.
D.C. had planned to build a sludge composting facility at Oxon Cove near the southern tip of the city, but but halted those plans because it would be too close to the D.C. Village home for the aged. Health officials said the aged and people with respiratory problems are especially vulnerable to the fungus produced during composting.
The continued controversy over sludge disposal could cause a federally imposed sewer moratorium in the Washington area, U.S. officials warned recently. That moratorium could be invoked because Blue Plains is violating its discharge permit and has cut back on the amount of sludge it is handling.
In addition, the District of Columbia said yesterday that the sludge problems could block its approval of any regional water treatment plan under certain federal programs.