The Maryland Department of the Environment seems to be overreaching its mission when it worries about how bottom ash is stockpiled in Garrett County.
For years the county has stockpiled the ash — a byproduct of coal combustion — with little or no problem. But the county roads department has received a violation notice from the Department of the Environment stating that the county is required to cover or store bottom ash.
It may not seem like a big deal, but from a cost standpoint, it certainly is. County Administrator Monty Pagenhardt believes it would require an outlay of up to $750,000 to acquire structures to cover the bottom ash at the three roads garages and at its Altamont site.
Although bottom ash has been an effective winter abrasive on Garrett roads, it is not used in other parts of Maryland. Jay Moyer, general roads superintendent for the county, said the material has had little or no environmental impact.
The bottom ash is now stored and covered in a safe way so that dust isn’t blowing away, Moyer said. Delegate Wendell Beitzel said: “I find it kind of amazing that you have to take these kind of procedures for a stockpile. The greatest danger is using it on the roads and they (MDE) are just concerned about the stockpile.”
Garrett officials are asking Beitzel and Senator George Edwards to introduce legislation in Annapolis to amend the state code to allow roads departments to continue to stockpile coal combustion byproducts.
We hope the Garrett County legislators will have no trouble convincing fellow state legislators that the code change makes sense.