Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (March 21, 2001) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has made a final determination to deny a State Discharge Permit for the Rel Jems Farm in Rocky Ridge, Frederick County, to discharge wastewater from its hog finishing operation via land application.

Without a discharge permit this operation is restricted to no more than 1,000 animal units on site at any one time. "Animal units" is an agricultural term based on animals the size of cattle. For hogs, 1,000 animal units equates to 2,500 hogs greater than 55 lbs. MDE received public comment on the proposed permit that had indicated the existing numbers of hogs produced unreasonable odors on neighboring properties and that increasing the number of hogs would intensify the unsatisfactory odor.

In response to these comments, MDE conducted an odor study to determine the odor levels on neighboring properties and to evaluate the effectiveness of various efforts to control the odor.

MDE determined that off-site odors from this facility continued to be of levels that violated air quality odor nuisance requirements with the existing numbers of hogs. Based on the results of this study, MDE is denying the permit which would have allowed farm owner Rodney Harbaugh to expand the operation.

"The denial of this permit will ensure that residents on neighboring properties are not adversely impacted by the operations on this farm," said MDE Secretary Jane Nishida.

MDE’s Air and Radiation Management Administration will continue to investigate the odor conditions at the farm.