Press Release

Maryland Department of the Environment
For More Information:
Richard McIntire
John Verrico
(410) 537-3003

MDE Files Penalties Against Wicomico County Property Owners

BALTIMORE, MD (June 6, 2002) – Four Wicomico County property owners are being charged with violating the state’s lead laws. Today, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) filed a Complaint against Bruce Ruark, Arthur Webster, the Meridian Company, and PLP Enterprises LLC and is seeking a $100,000 penalty and injunctive relief that would compel the property owners to comply with Maryland's Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Law.

Several counts in the complaint focus on property in the 500 block of Winder Street in Salisbury while other counts address any other pre-1950 properties owned by the defendants. MDE's complaint requests the Wicomico County Circuit Court to grant an injunction requiring the defendants to register the Winder Street property and bring it into compliance with risk reduction standards. The injunction would also require bringing all affected properties in which there was a change in tenancy since February 26, 1996, and at least 50% of all other affected properties, into compliance with the full risk reduction standard.

"Failure to bring rental properties into compliance with applicable lead risk reduction standards poses a danger to children who may occupy or spend time in the affected properties," said Acting MDE Secretary Merrylin Zaw-Mon. MDE rigorously enforces Maryland' s lead law to ensure rental housing is lead safe. While MDE is aggressively pursuing enforcement, it will also continue to enter into agreements with those property owners who are committed to achieving compliance with lead laws. Property owners may call (800) 776-2706 for lead law compliance information and property registration.

Lead poisoning, a preventable disease, may result in poor school performance, inability to read, aggressive behavior, hearing loss, or even mental retardation. Maryland's Lead Law, enacted in 1994, requires owners of rental property constructed before 1950 to register the property with MDE and meet risk reduction standards prior to tenant occupancy or upon receipt of notice of hazardous lead paint conditions or reports of elevated blood levels.

“Lead poisoning is not an urban issue,” said the acting Secretary. “This case in Wicomico County demonstrates that lead poisoning is an issue for all Marylanders. Efforts to reduce exposure to lead hazards in Maryland have been enhanced by aggressive enforcement, collaboration with property owners and education.”

The filing of this Complaint happens to coincide with Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, when activities are taking place all across the state to raise awareness and educate the public about the hazards of exposure to lead.

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