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 8,249 enforcement actions in Fiscal Year 2017, as reported in the Annual Enforcement and Compliance Report. Below are enforcement actions brought to a resolution between January 1, 2018, and March 31, 2018, with financial penalties of $10,000 or more
The Department of the Environment’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program serves as the coordinating agency for statewide efforts to eliminate childhood lead poisoning. Under the 1994 "Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Act,” the Department assures compliance with mandatory requirements for lead risk reduction in rental units built before 1978, maintains a statewide listing of registered and inspected units and provides blood lead surveillance through a registry of test results of all children tested in Maryland. Alleged violations typically involve a failure to register properties or meet lead risk-reduction standards. The following actions were for properties alleged to be out of compliance with lead risk-reduction standards:
Hagerstown Housing Authority – Hagerstown, Washington County
Six affected properties – On Jan. 4, 2018, the department entered into a Settlement and Consent Order to resolve alleged violations of Maryland’s lead law. The defendant agreed to a $15,000 penalty.
The Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) and Maryland Animal Feeding Operation (MAFO) 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 water quality issues in Maryland waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay. These farms register for coverage under the General Discharge Permit for Animal Feeding Operations.
William R. Thomas, Jr. – Preston, Caroline County
On March 6, 2018, the department entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order to resolve alleged violations of Maryland’s AFO law. The defendant agreed to a penalty of $23,000.
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 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 MDE 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.
Baltimore County Sanitary Sewer Overflows – Baltimore County
On March 6, 2018, the department issued a stipulated penalty of $99,250 to resolve sanitary sewer overflows that occurred in the county in 2014 and 2015. The penalty assessment is in accordance with the terms of a judicial consent decree between the county and the department.
Howard County Sanitary Sewer Overflows – Howard County
On March 6, 2018, the department issued a stipulated penalty of $84,000 to resolve sanitary sewer overflows that occurred in the county from July 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2016. The penalty assessment is in accordance with the terms of a consent order between the county and the department.
City of Frederick– Frederick County
On March 22, 2018, the department assessed $61,000 in stipulated penalties to resolve alleged effluent violations from January 2013 through December 2016. The penalties were assessed in accordance with a consent agreement between the City of Frederick and the department for the completion of Enhanced Nutrient Reduction (ENR) improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
Martin A. Diaz/D.B. Custom Marble & Granite Inc.– Prince George’s County
On March 2, 2018, the department and Martin A. Diaz entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order to resolve alleged water pollution, sediment and waterway construction violations in Clinton. The agreement requires corrective measures and payment of a $35,000 penalty.
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