The Maryland Department of the Environment enforces State and federal environmental laws to protect public health and our land, air, water and wetlands resources.
“Enforcement is an important part of what we do to protect public health and keep our communities clean, and we do this with a balanced and common-sense approach,” said Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles. “The Department of the Environment works in collaboration with facilities to ensure they are in compliance with all requirements, but we will go after polluters and impose financial penalties when needed. We are committed to changing Maryland for the better – protecting and restoring our environment while providing businesses with clear expectations and a level playing field among the regulated entities.”
The majority of the Department’s enforcement and compliance activities involve working with permit holders to correct any minor deficiencies with no formal enforcement action taken or financial penalties assessed. This assistance may be the most efficient method to achieve compliance. If an inspection reveals a significant violation, or if minor violations continue to recur and become a significant problem, then enhanced actions are warranted. Such action may take the form of penalties, corrective orders, the filing of injunctions and, in some cases, criminal sanctions.
The Department took 7,676 enforcement actions in Fiscal Year 2015, as reported in the Annual Enforcement and Compliance Report. Below are enforcement actions brought to a resolution between April 1, 2016, and June 30, 2016, with financial penalties of $10,000 or more.
The Mining Program regulates all surface coal and non-coal mining in the State and the surface effects from deep mining of coal. The purpose of mining permits is to minimize the effects of sediment and other pollution from surface mining. In addition to environmental controls, the permit provides for proper land reclamation and ensures public safety.
Shore Sand and Gravel LLC – Caroline County: On May 9, 2016, the Department issued a Notice of Violation requiring compliance with Maryland’s Surface Mine Permit and seeking $10,000 for alleged violations. The penalty has been paid in full.
The Oil Control Program has highly trained staff to help companies and individuals ensure that their Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) are in compliance with State and federal regulations. All regulated USTs within Maryland are required to be registered through the Underground Storage Tank Notification Program. All USTs storing motor fuels (e.g., gasoline, diesel) must meet specific technical standards (corrosion protection, spill/overfill prevention, leak detection and financial responsibility) or be removed from the ground.
Atlantis Petroleum, LLC, GK Management, LLC and Kenneth Morrison – Allegany and Garrett Counties: On May 3, 2016, the Department entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order to resolve alleged violations of Maryland’s UST laws. The defendants agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty.
The Department of the Environment’s Air and Radiation Management Administration ensures that all citizens and businesses are meeting the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act as well as Maryland’s air pollution control laws. The Administration oversees air pollution monitoring, planning and control programs to improve and maintain air quality and a radiation control program to protect the public from unnecessary exposure to radiation from medical equipment and other devices, in conformance with federal and state law.
American Yeast Corporation – Baltimore County: On May 19, 2016, the Department and the American Yeast Corporation finalized a settlement agreement to resolve alleged air pollution violations at the company’s production plant in Dundalk. The facility allegedly violated its air quality permit by failing to properly operate a hydrogen sulfide emissions monitor, failing to conduct visible emissions readings and submitting inaccurate monitoring reports. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, American Yeast is to install a new hydrogen sulfide emissions monitor and pay a $25,000 penalty. The penalty has been paid.
State law prohibits the discharge of any pollutant into waters of the State, unless such discharge is in compliance with the terms, conditions, and requirements of a discharge permit. A person must hold a discharge permit issued by MDE before the person may construct, install, modify, extend, alter or operate any facility or disposal system or any other outlet or establishment if its operation could cause or increase the discharge of pollutants into waters of the State.
State law requires that property owners notify the Department of the Environment before conducting any work in tidal and nontidal wetlands, their buffers, and waterways of the State. The Department assesses the impact of any work on tidal and nontidal wetlands and, if appropriate, will issue a permit authorizing the work. The regulations governing wetlands were developed to protect the State’s natural resources that depend on those wetlands and minimize impacts while allowing property owners reasonable use of their property.
State law requires that, prior to performing construction activity, a person obtain and implement a Soil Conservation District-approved erosion and sediment control plan for any proposed land clearing or earth disturbance greater than 5,000 square feet that must be maintained for the life of the project. It is unlawful for any person to introduce soil or sediment into waters of the State or to place soil or sediment in a condition or location where it is likely to be washed into waters of the State.
State law requires that any activity involving earth disturbance over one acre requires a General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activity. This permit requires the implementation of an approved erosion and sediment control plan prior to performing earth grading operations as well as self-monitoring inspections of the erosion and sediment controls.
State law requires any project that impacts waterways, including the 100 year floodplain, shall be authorized by a State Waterway Construction Permit. Construction must proceed in accordance with the permit conditions and the Maryland Department of the Environment-approved plan. The laws and regulations governing construction projects were developed to protect the State’s natural resources while allowing property owners reasonable use of their property.
Potomac Water Filtration Facility - Montgomery County: On April 15, 2016, the Department of the Environment, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Potomac Riverkeeper and the Washington Sanitary Sewer Commission (WSSC) entered into a Judicial Consent Decree to resolve alleged water pollution violations that occurred from January 2011 through October 2015 at the Potomac Water Filtration Plant. The decree requires WSSC to pay a $100,000 penalty and includes stipulated penalties for any future failure to complete the milestones outlined in the Decree. The milestones include development of short-term operational changes and capital improvements that will enable WSSC to significantly reduce the pounds per day of solids discharged to the Potomac River and to develop and implement a long-term schedule for the implementation of upgrades to the existing plant or to design and construct a new plant to achieve the effluent limits, conditions and waste load allocations established by the Department or in the Consent Decree and incorporated in a new discharge permit to be issued by the Department. The decree requires WSSC to propose and complete a supplemental environmental project worth $1 million or pay the difference for any project completed not valued at $1 million.
Jones Junction - Harford County: On April 15, 2016, the Department of the Environment and Jones Junction LLLP entered into a Settlement Agreement to resolve alleged water pollutions that occurred at Jones Junction Toyota on Belair Road, Bel Air. The Department issued a $10,000 penalty, which has been paid. The alleged violations have been corrected.
Luke Paper Company – Allegany County: On April 27, 2016, the Department of the Environment issued a Settlement Agreement and Penalty to the Verso Corporation to resolve alleged violations of its discharge permit that occurred at the Luke Paper Company, 300 Pratt Street, Luke, Maryland. The Agreement included a $10,000 penalty, which has been paid. The facility is implementing improvements to address the alleged violations.
Glenelg Country School - Howard County: On April 27, 2016, the Department of the Environment and Glenelg Country School entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order to resolve alleged groundwater pollution violations that occurred from August 2012 through October 2015 at the Glenelg Country School Wastewater Treatment Plant in Ellicott City. Under the terms of the Consent Order, Glenelg Country School will replace the current wastewater treatment system by July 1, 2017, and complete a supplemental environmental project by November 30, 2016. Stipulated penalties are included in the Consent Order for failure to comply with requirements. The Consent Order also withholds an upfront penalty of $14, 250 for the alleged effluent violations pending installation and operation of the replacement wastewater plant by July 1, 2017.
Arnold Property – Carroll County: On June 5, 2015, the Department of the Environment issued an Administrative Complaint, Order, and Penalty to Kenneth and Dawn Arnold to resolve alleged sediment control and sediment pollution, non-tidal wetlands and water pollution violations on a residential property on Twin Arch Road, Mount Airy. The Order required corrective action, included a $53,000 penalty and described the procedure for requesting a hearing to contest the Order. On September 1, 2015, having not received a request for a hearing, the Department filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings a request for a final Default Order to finalize the corrective action and penalty. The Default Order, issued September 29, 2015, granted the Defendants 30 days to file a motion to modify or vacate the Default Order. On February 4, 2016, having not received notification that such a motion was filed, the Department issued an invoice to the Defendants for the $53,000 penalty with a due date of March 4, 2016. A second notice of the outstanding payment was issued on March 4, 2016, and a final notice was issued on April 4, 2016. The case was transferred to the Central Collections Unit on May 18, 2016.
Patapsco and Back River WWTPs - Baltimore City: On June 8, 2016, the Department of the Environment and the City of Baltimore entered into a Consent Order to resolved alleged effluent and monitoring and reporting violations at the Patapsco and Back River Wastewater Treatment Plants. The Consent Order requires the implementation of improvements to resolve the alleged violations at both facilities. The Consent Order includes the assessment of a $40,000 penalty to resolve violations at both Patapsco WWTP and Back River WWTP. Stipulated Penalties are also included in the Consent Order for failure to comply with its terms.
Erachem Comilog, Anne Arundel County: On June 29, 2016, the Department of the Environment and Erachem Comilog, Inc., entered into a Consent Order and Penalty to resolve alleged total nitrogen effluent violations that occurred at the facility’s wastewater treatment plant in 2014 and 2015. The Consent Order includes a $72,600 penalty to resolve the alleged violations, requirements for improvements and stipulated penalties for failure to comply with the terms of the Consent Order.
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