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New panel seeks trash solutions

Advisory board to recommend plan for cityís waste transfer stations

(Published November 29, 1999)

By EMORY JULIAN MILLS

Staff Writer

The city is looking for a new way to take out its trash. On Nov. 15, the city council unanimously approved the confirmation of a nine-member Solid Waste Transfer Facility Site Selection Advisory Panel to advise the council about potential sites for the facilities.

The panel will be required to hold a public forum within 45 days of its first meeting and will then have six months to submit its recommendations to the city council. The panel has two members from Ward 5, two members from Ward 3, one member from Ward 7, one member from Ward 6, one member from Ward 2, and one member from Silver Spring. Each member will serve for a single one-year term.

Council members Vincent B. Orange Sr., D-Ward 5 and Carol Schwartz, R-At large, chairman of the Public Works and Environment Committee, called for finding sites that are at least 500 feet from residents as required by D.C. law.

"These trash transfer stations negatively impact our community, both residents and businesses," said Schwartz.

Orange agreed.

"No one wants waste transfer stations in their backyards," said Orange. "We need a board that will provide objectivity for both the industry and the citizens as they ascertain some locations pursuant to the 500-foot buffer."

Ward 7 panel member George Gurley said he joined the panel because he was concerned about citizens who lack voices in their government.

"Somebody had to be in there to look out for the little man," said Gurley, president of the River Terrace Community Organization. "I would ask why so many of these transfer stations have been put in predominantly black areas. Ward 5 definitely has more than its fair share."

Gurley, who recently led the fight against closing a station at Fort Totten and transferring its trash to a station at Benning Road and Kenilworth Avenue, also questioned why trash is imported into the District from Maryland and Virginia and why these states donít build their own trash transfer stations.

Dorn McGrath Jr., Ward 3 panel member and George Washington University planning expert, called for improving the zoning process for trash transfer stations. Some big cities like Boston or Cleveland integrate zones for trash transfer stations into their city planning, he said.

"We have obsolete zoning in the city," said McGrath, who characterized the Districtís planning process as "a collection of platitudes" and added, "Transfer stations have fallen by the wayside."

In addition to Gurley and McGrath, the Solid Waste Transfer Facility Site Selection Advisory Panel includes Chaz Miller of Silver Spring, Richard Noel Wolf of Ward 6, Ferial Bishop of Ward 3, the Rev. Morris L. Shearin Sr. and Anthony L. Shurn of Ward 5, Lisa G. Dowden of Ward 1 and Marilyn Groves of Ward 2.

Franklin Wilds, chairman of the Ward 5 Democrats, said he is not pleased with the panelís makeup.

"The majority (of the panel) should have come from Ward 5," said Wilds, noting that his ward has had to deal with the bulk of the cityís trash transfer problems. "Waste transfer stations have been in the area for 25 years. The air quality on New York Avenue is terrible. Soon weíll be like Houston and L.A."

The Districtís nine operational solid waste facilities are Waste Management and Caslin Associates at 2160 Queens Chapel Road NE; Rodgers Brothers Custodial Services Inc. at 2225 Lawrence St. NE, 2115 Bryant St. NE and 2230 Lawrence St. NE; Innovative Recyclers Inc. at 2301 Lawrence St. NE; Browning Ferris Industries and Consolidated Waste Industries at 1220 W St. NE; USA Waste of D.C. Inc. at 1140 Third St. NE; Eastern Trans-Waste of Maryland Inc. at 1315-1331 First St. SE, and James Taylor Trash Removal Contractors Inc. at 5201 Hayes St. NE.

The city also has four waste transfer stations that D.C. Superior Court has ordered closed:

*American Environmental Solutions Inc. at 1900 Kendall St. NE, which declared bankruptcy and no longer occupies the site;

*Harris Transport and Associated Waste at 2155 Queens Chapel Road NE, which was cleaned up by the city, the landlord and the operator and has been sold for use by a construction company to manufacture cement;

*ReCon at 60 P St. SE, which the landlord and the operator cleaned up and is now being used for asphalt manufacturing;

*John Williamson at 2100 Lawrence St. NE., which the city cleaned up and is now being used as a parking lot for taxicabs.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator