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A rendering of the waste-to-energy plant
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is wrong to drop its opposition to a proposed plan to construct a garbage-to-electricity conversion plant in Baltimore City. These plants should not operate near population centers. The Center opposes this project.

MDE has entered into a settlement agreement with Albany, N.Y.-based Energy Answers International over its plan to build a 140-megawatt renewable energy plant in the city. MDE previously opposed a Maryland Public Service Commission ruling that the plant would not require additional air and water permits before construction would begin. Instead of appealing the PSC decision, the agency is claiming to have secured environmental safeguards through an agreement with Energy Answers. MDE claims the safeguards included the most stringent mercury emissions rate for any such facility in the country.

Energy Answers plans to build the power plant on a piece of industrially zoned land near Curtis Bay owned by the FMC Corporation. in the Fairfield neighborhood. The plant will be able to handle processing about 4,000 tons of refuse per day. The plant will take municipal waste, tire chips, automobile waste and other items and shred them into four-inch pieces, which will then be burned to produce steam that generates electricity. The energy produced by the plant will qualify as renewable energy.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the site of the plant has been in use since 1915 as an ethanol and acetone production facility to provide war materials. FMC bought the site in 1954 and produced agricultural and industrial organic chemicals there until it ceased production at the plant in 2008. Energy Answers plans to lease the air rights to the property from FMC, which covers improvements and everything above ground level. Under this arrangement, the EPA’s groundwater contaminate remediation plan will continue to be handled by FMC. (Maryland Daily Record, 7/26/2010)