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 8,590 enforcement actions in Fiscal Year 2018, as reported in the Annual Enforcement and Compliance Report. Below are recent enforcement actions brought to a resolution with financial penalties of $10,000 or more.
Land Pollution Enforcement Actions
Lead poisoning prevention
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:
- Robert Hsueh-Ko Hu – Hyattsville, Prince George’s County
Two affected properties – On January 7, 2019, the department entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order to resolved alleged violations of Maryland’s lead law. The Defendant agreed to a $10,000 penalty.
- American Homeowner Services, LLC, et al. – multiple jurisdictions
On January 28, 2019, a Consent Judgment was entered against American Homeowner Services, LLC, in favor of MDE in the amount of $450,000, pursuant to the terms of Consent Decree between the company and the department. The Consent Decree settled a complaint filed by the department alleging that the defendants were responsible for the issuance of lead-free inspection certificates for residential properties that contained lead-based paint.
- Kaja Holdings 2 LLC, et al. – multiple jurisdictions
On March 8, 2019, the department entered into a Consent Decree with Kaja Holdings 2 LLC, and several related companies to resolved alleged violations of Maryland’s lead law. The Consent Decree includes a $1 million civil penalty. A $385,000 judgment has been entered against the companies, which were required to pay $60,000 immediately with the balance of the $385,000 judgment to be paid in quarterly installments through March 2023. The remaining $615,000 of the penalty is held in abeyance and will be released if the companies make the payments and perform work required under the consent decree. The Consent Decree requires the 10 related defendant companies to bring rental properties they own and manage into compliance with Maryland's lead law and to begin to divest themselves of real estate owned in Maryland.
- Carleton East Operating Company, LLC, and Bluestone Management Services Limited Partnership – Lanham, Prince George’s County
51 affected properties – On March 14, 2019, the department entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order to resolve alleged violations of Maryland’s lead law. The defendants agreed to a $20,000 penalty.
Air Pollution and Radiation Enforcement Actions
The Department of the Environment’s Air and Radiation 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 and occupational workers from unnecessary exposure to radiation from medical equipment and other devices, in conformance with federal and state law.
- Plymouth Tube Company – Wicomico County
On March 15, 2019, the department and the Plymouth Tube Company finalized a settlement agreement to address alleged air pollution violations at its plant. Plymouth Tube failed to submit required annual reports and failed to conduct required monitoring and recordkeeping. The agreement includes provisions that Plymouth Tube will implement to ensure compliance moving forward. The agreement includes a $29,000 penalty. Plymouth Tube manufactures custom stainless steel tubing at its plant in Salisbury.
- Lifoam Industries – Harford County
On March 27, 2019, the department and Lifoam Industries finalized a settlement agreement to address alleged air pollution violations at its plant. Lifoam operated its processing equipment without running its air pollution control device. The agreement includes provisions that Lifoam will implement to ensure compliance moving forward. The agreement includes a $30,000 penalty. The Lifoam plant manufactures expanded polystyrene products such as coolers.
Water Pollution Enforcement Actions
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, 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 property owners notify MDE before conducting any work in tidal and nontidal wetlands, their buffers, and waterways of the State. MDE 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 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.
- Vera’s White Sands Beach Club, LLC – Calvert County
On December 28, 2018, the department issued $67,500 in penalties following a ruling by the Circuit Court for Calvert County on the Money Judgment for Stipulated Penalties due in accordance with a Consent Decree and Consent Order of Constructive Civil Contempt.
- Garney Companies - WSSC John Hanson Highway Water Transmission Main – Prince George’s County
On January 22, 2019, Garney Companies, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and the department agreed to settle alleged sediment control, sediment pollution, construction stormwater and nontidal wetlands permit violations during construction of a water transmission main with a payment of $58,200 by Garney Companies. All alleged violations have been corrected.
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