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 July 1, 2016, and September 30, 2016, with financial penalties of $10,000 or more.
Hazardous waste generators must arrange for shipment of their hazardous waste to a facility permitted to accept it or, with the appropriate permits, treat it themselves. A person who ships hazardous waste off-site must use a hauler certified by the Department and the waste must be accompanied by a document that tracks it from generation to disposal (the hazardous waste manifest). A person must comply with regulations on the storage of the waste and must follow specified procedures to prevent the occurrence of circumstances that would threaten human health or the environment.
Holy Cross Hospital – Silver Spring, Montgomery County: On August 1, 2016, the Department issued a Notice of Violation requiring compliance with Maryland’s Controlled Hazardous Substance regulations and seeking $10,000 for alleged violations. The penalty has been paid.
The Maryland Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) Program regulates discharges from larger farms raising poultry, cattle, swine and other livestock. These discharges contain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus which contribute to eutrophication and other water quality issues in waters of the State including the Chesapeake Bay. These farms register for coverage under the General Discharge Permit for Animal Feeding Operations.
Edward S. Calloway – Mardela Springs, Wicomico County: On August 1, 2016, the Department entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order to resolve alleged violations of Maryland’s Animal Feeding Operations laws. The defendant agreed to a penalty of $15,500.
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.
St. Agnes Healthcare, Inc. – Baltimore City: On July 1, 2016, the Department and St. Agnes Healthcare Inc. finalized a Settlement Agreement to resolve an alleged violation of Maryland’s radiation control regulations. The alleged violation involved an incorrect administration of radiation. Under the agreement, St. Agnes Healthcare paid an $18,000 penalty.
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.
Patapsco and Back River Wastewater Treatment Plants: On July 11, 2016, the City of Baltimore entered into a consent order with the Maryland Department of the Environment and paid a $40,000 penalty for alleged effluent violations, sampling errors and unauthorized discharges for both plants from September 2010 through June 2015. The consent order requires the submittal of a plan and schedule to address the violations and stipulated penalties for violations of the order.
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC): On September 1, 2016, WSSC paid a $48,037 penalty to the Maryland Department of the Environment for sanitary sewer overflows from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015. The penalties were assessed and paid under stipulations in a Consent Decree between the Department of the Environment, along with other parties, and WSSC to eliminate unauthorized sewage overflows.
Harford County: On September 20, 2016, Harford County paid $20,800 to the Maryland Department of the Environment to resolve sanitary sewer overflows that occurred from the County's collection system from October 1, 2012 through December 31, 2015.
Eden Wood Preserving LLC – Fruitland, Wicomico County: Eden Wood Preserving LLC entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order to resolve alleged sediment control, sediment pollution and nontidal wetlands violations during the expansion of their wood processing facility on Old Eden Road in Fruitland. Eden Wood Preserving LLC submitted a restoration plan, which was approved, and restored 2.65 acres on forested and emergent nontidal wetlands and has agreed to monitor and maintain it for five years. A $15,000 penalty was paid to the Department on August 9, 2016.
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