Press Release

BALTIMORE (February 18, 2000) -- The Maryland Department of the Environment today filed a complaint and a proposed consent judgment in Allegany County Circuit Court that would require the Upper Potomac River Commission (UPRC) to pay $360,000 and Westvaco Corporation $90,000 in penalties for water quality violations at the UPRC’s wastewater treatment plant and would direct the commission to accelerate significant upgrades at the wastewater facility.

The UPRC operates a wastewater treatment plant that treats the industrial wastewater from Westvaco’s pulp and paper mill in Luke, Maryland as well as the municipal flow from the towns of Luke and Westernport, Maryland, and Piedmont, West Virginia. Discharges from the Westvaco plant comprise 18 million gallons of the 19 million gallons of wastewater processed daily at the treatment facility.

The complaint and consent judgment allege that the wastewater treatment plant violated fecal coliform effluent limitations repeatedly between February 1995 and January 2000.

In addition to the proposed penalties, the proposed consent judgment would require UPRC to complete upgrades to the treatment plant by November 1, 2001, and by April 30, 2002, fully achieve compliance with monthly and daily fecal coliform effluent limitations.

If UPRC fails to complete the requirements of the consent judgment, the commission would be liable for stipulated penalties.

The filing follows American Canoe Association’s December notification of MDE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the group intended to file a citizen’s lawsuit against UPRC and Westvaco for fecal coliform violations at the UPRC plant.

"By the terms of this proposed settlement, MDE would collect significant penalties from the Upper Potomac River Commission and Westvaco, but more importantly, the environment and the citizens of the area would benefit by a significantly accelerated process to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant," said MDE Secretary Jane Nishida.