BALTIMORE, MD (December 13, 2011) – The Maryland Department of the Environment and the Office of the Attorney General today announced an agreement with Wheelabrator Baltimore, L.P. to resolve alleged violations of Maryland’s air pollution control laws at the company’s municipal solid waste resource recovery facility in Baltimore. The agreement requires the company to pay a $77,500 penalty to the Maryland Clean Air Fund.
In 2009, Wheelabrator reported to MDE that an employee who was performing maintenance inadvertently shut off power to a system that controls mercury emissions from the Baltimore City facility. In 2010, the facility exceeded its mercury emission limit during an annual compliance test. In both instances, Wheelabrator corrected the system failures and brought the facility back into compliance the same day.
“Governor O’Malley is strongly committed to the continuing improvement and protection of Maryland’s environment,” said MDE Secretary Robert M. Summers. “Although the Department acknowledges that Wheelabrator took swift action to return the facility to compliance, it is critical for those who emit mercury to ensure controls are maintained at all times. Fish in many of Maryland’s lakes and reservoirs are contaminated with mercury at levels that present a health risk to people who catch and eat them. Reducing releases of mercury to the environment to protect public health is one of the Department’s top priorities.”
“This agreement reinforces our strong commitment to promoting a healthy environment,” said Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. “We expect this action will deter others from failing to operate and manage their pollution control equipment properly.”
Mercury is a toxic air pollutant that deposits in water bodies and bioaccumulates in fish tissue. Consumption of fish contaminated with mercury can present a health risk to people who regularly consume fish caught in Maryland waters. MDE’s website includes information on fish consumption advisories that provide guidelines for protecting your health.