Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (August 13, 1998) -- The Attorney General of Maryland, acting on behalf of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), today filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Talbot County against Allen Family Foods Inc. for willfully placing pollutants in the environment, discharging wastewater via spray irrigation that caused the groundwater to exceed maximum allowed levels of nitrates, failing to monitor nitrogen levels on a weekly basis and failure to operate under an approved crop management plan.

The Department alleges that Allen discharged via spray irrigation up to a million gallons of wastewater a day from its chicken processing plant on Cordova Road, Talbot County, on nearly 400 acres of farmland adjacent to the plant. This discharge was in violation of the Company's State wastewater treatment permit that was issued on August 1, 1997. The complaint also alleges that the continued spray irrigation operation caused groundwater nitrate levels to far exceed safe drinking water standards. Allen also is alleged to have failed to submit required weekly reports and operated without an approved crop management plan.

MDE asked the court to grant an injunction, which would require Allen to comply with the conditions of its State wastewater discharge permit, conduct a study of ground and surface waters of the State to determine the extent of contamination resulting from the spray irrigation, and conduct remediation based upon the results of the study. MDE also asked the Court to assess a civil penalty. Under Maryland law, Allen can be fined up to $10,000 per day per violation.

"Our attempts to work with the Allen Family Foods to reach an acceptable settlement were unsuccessful," said Governor Parris N. Glendening. "Maryland must take decisive action when violations are willful and jeopardize the quality of our water resources."

Elevated levels of nitrates in groundwater may cause health problems in children who consume drinking water. Nitrogen and phosphorus in surface water are known to cause algae blooms, which choke out other aquatic life.