BALTIMORE, MD (September 16, 1997) -- Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge James T. Smith, Jr. last week found Patapsco Valley Farms owner James F. Jett in contempt of court for failing to comply with an April 30, 1997 court order. The order required Jett to comply with the conditions of a state natural wood waste recycling facility permit for his facility on Dogwood Road in western Baltimore County.
At the request of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the court yesterday ordered Jett to cease accepting natural wood waste because he failed to repair and maintain a pond used for fire fighting purposes. Jett may not reopen and resume accepting waste until he complies with the judge's order and the requirements of the state natural wood waste recycling facility permit.
The facility was the site of a large underground fire in February 1991 which smoldered for over a year. The "stump dump" reopened and proceeded to obtain the required permit under the state's natural wood waste recycling law, which set standards to regulate the size of the future operation. In June 1995, MDE issued the permit, which established detailed limits on the kind of material which could be accepted at the recycling facility, the size of stockpiles of stumps and other unprocessed wood materials, and the amount of mulch which could be kept on site, as well as numerous other requirements for fire prevention, reporting and operational procedures.
During MDE inspections in 1995 and early 1996, violations cited included poor drainage, inadequate access roads, lack of fire breaks between piles of wood, landfilling of some wood waste and stockpiling of the flammable material outside of the area allowed by permit. Although much of the excess wood waste had been removed since the lawsuit was filed August 5, 1996, many violations, including the burial of wood waste in some areas and the failure to maintain a pond for firefighting purposes remained unresolved. The 1996 lawsuit asked the court to order Jett to stop accepting waste at the facility; to remove all wood material placed at the site above the level of the soil layer used to suppress the fire; to remove all other waste materials which may be present at the facility in violation of Maryland law, regulations and the permit; and to regrade the site to the topography that existed after the fire. Judge Smith granted the requested injunction which required Jett to correct environmental violations and comply with the conditions of the permit.