11 July 2008 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 1 comment

It would appear that the threat of a nasty waste incinerator being built just outside the park boundaries at Monocacy–a beautiful, mostly pristine battlefield (with the exception of the Interstate cutting through the middle of it, of course)–is passing:

Monocacy Site Unlikely for Incinerator
By Meg Tully

Frederick News-Post (MD)

“Very unlikely.”

That’s how Frederick County Commissioners President Jan Gardner characterizes the chances that an electricity-producing trash incinerator will be built near the Monocacy National Battlefield.

Gardner wrote that in an e-mail this week to dozens of county residents and officials who have been following the incinerator debate.

Contacted by phone Wednesday, Gardner said the commissioners haven’t officially discussed a location for the plant.

“I think that the majority of the commissioners aren’t going to want to have an impact on the Monocacy battlefield,” she said.

The commissioners have requested construction bids for a waste-to-energy plant on land in the McKinney Industrial Park off Buckeystown Pike, near the battlefield.

But they always planned to consider other sites, and named McKinney because they needed a specific site for bid pricing, Gardner said.

At a public hearing last year, battlefield superintendent Susan Trail said the roughly 150-foot-high incinerator smokestack would be visually intrusive.

The Civil War Preservation Trust named the battlefield one of the most endangered Civil War sites this year because of the incinerator threat.

Known as the “battle that saved Washington,” the one-day conflict at Monocacy delayed Confederate troops as they marched unsuccessfully on the capital in 1864.

The county is looking at other sites, but until they have reached an agreement with a property owner, the commissioners will not discuss those options publicly.

The county already owns the McKinney site.

Several commissioners said they weren’t willing to discount that location because it could add as much as $40 million to the cost to build the plant elsewhere.

If the county builds on the McKinney site, it could use the incinerator to dispose of biowaste, or sludge, from the existing wastewater treatment plant there.

With the incinerator at another site, the county might have to construct another disposal facility at the McKinney site specifically to dispose of the sludge. Such a plant is estimated to cost $40 million.

That would only happen if the county can’t find a way to transport the sludge to another incinerator site.

Commissioner Charles Jenkins said he would consider costs when making a decision, though he will also keep in mind the battlefield concerns.

“I’m not married to one particular site, but I just know if you’re looking at it from the dollar and cents perspective, it doesn’t get much better than (the McKinney site),” Jenkins said.

Commissioner David Gray said the $40 million savings is “no small consideration.”

But he would like to consider other sites, particularly one with enough land to set up a resource recovery park with recycling and composting that would sort out reusable trash before sending the rest to be burned.

“I understand the park’s concern about the viewshed and if there’s a better site, that’s fine with me,” he said.

Land for the plant would be paid for through the same bond the county will use to build it. Compared to the several hundred million dollar construction cost, land acquisition would be a relatively minor expense, Gardner said.

A spokeswoman from the Civil War Preservation Trust said the trust is monitoring the situation and is glad the commissioners are not jumping to a decision.

“That location would have such a visual impact on a huge part of the battlefield,” spokeswoman Mary Koik said of the McKinney site.

The commissioners expect to receive final bids in August. They will then decide whether to proceed with building a waste-to-energy plant.

We had a waste-to-energy plant here in Columbus for the first ten years or so that I lived here. It was known to all as the cash to steam plant or the cash burning power plant, because it was always a major money loser. I can’t imagine one in Frederick doing any better. And damn, what an ugly thing to build.

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  1. Fri 11th Jul 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Thanks for passing this along. Monocacy was one of the battles in which a local York, Pennsylvania, regiment (the 87th PA) participated, so this is good news! They share a monument on the field.

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