BALTIMORE, MD (June 1, 2004) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin to conduct joint inspections of three to five wastewater treatment plants in Maryland next week.
The joint inspections, which were requested by MDE, will review Maryland’s monitoring protocols under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The federal system assigns the states responsibility for oversight of wastewater treatment plants.
“EPA has repeatedly said that the Maryland Department of the Environment has an effective monitoring and enforcement program, but this extra effort will help to assure Marylanders that the state is protecting public health and the environment,” said Kendl P. Philbrick, the secretary of the environment.
The two agencies agreed to the joint inspections in response to concerns raised after it was alleged that operators of the wastewater treatment plant in Centreville (Queen Anne’s County) may have deliberately falsified reports of flow and effluent quality at the plant. Those allegations are the subject of an on-going criminal investigation.
“MDE has kept the Environmental Protection Agency informed of developments in Centreville since the allegations were received in January and we believe that appropriate actions have been taken,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator of EPA’s mid-Atlantic region. “But this joint effort will give both agencies the opportunity to review the state’s inspection practices.”
MDE and EPA will conduct inspections of the plants, review discharge monitoring reports and, if necessary, conduct sampling of plant effluent. If problems are found, the two agencies will ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to bring a plant into compliance. When the inspections are completed, MDE and EPA will issue a report on Maryland’s inspection procedures and protocols.