CUMBERLAND - Mayor Lee Fiedler has seen the Say No to Sludge signs along state Route 160 in Pennsylvania and wonders if city officials need to start thinking about additional removal options.
Down the road we're going to have more and more trouble getting rid of it, Fiedler said during Tuesday's work session at City Hall. Should we start looking at different ways to get rid of it? ... I can see down the road burning it.
City Administrator Jeff Repp said he doesn't foresee a problem in the next few years but it would be wise to look at it.
He said the Maryland Department of the Environment also could change the regulations at any time, which would force the city to find an alternative.
The city began the land application program in 1991 because the sludge - or biosolids - no longer could be deposited at mining reclamation sites. Sludge is a byproduct of sewage treatment plants.
Currently, two companies handle the city's sludge, which is applied as a fertilizer to participating farmers' fields.
Synagro Inc. of Baltimore is one but its contract did not allow the company to take the sludge to the landfill.
With this year's wet weather conditions, land application sites are not accessible; therefore, the sludge needs to be taken to a landfill.
Repp said staff is recommending four modifications to the original contract, which was awarded June 5, 2001.
The city will pay the firm $5 per wet ton to transport the sludge to Mountainview Sanitary Landfill and it also will be billed for the tipping fee.
The city also will decide how much of the biosolids will be deposited at the landfill and when.
Synagro's contract will be extended another year for an expiration of April 1, 2005.
Officials approved the measure during its public meeting later that night.
Synagro also is looking at applying sludge to about 900 acres in Pennsylvania's Larimer Township.
The Citizens Environmental Watch Group, however, is working to stop the action and is holding a meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. in the New Hope Church.
Residents there contend the sludge may cause health and/or environmental problems and have formed the coalition in an effort to prevent the application.
Fiedler said he's been watching the citizens' reaction to the issue and that's why he wants staff to look at alternatives.
We need to make sure we stay up on it, he said.
Maria D. Martirano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org