Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (July 28, 2004) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is seeking a $50,000 penalty from Baltimore County for repeated violations of environmental laws at the Hernwood Sanitary Landfill.

MDE has also sent Baltimore County a second proposed enforcement action that carries potential penalties of up to $170,000 to resolve longstanding water pollution, sediment control and solid waste violations at Eastern Landfill.

“These are serious environmental issues that have not been adequately addressed by Baltimore County in a timely way,” said Kendl P. Philbrick, the secretary of the environment. “We are looking forward to working with Baltimore County to reach agreement on a consent order that will document performance dates toward solving these landfill problems quickly.”

The department ordered the county to complete the long-delayed capping of the northern part of Hernwood landfill, end erosion that is polluting a nearby stream and improve maintenance of an effluent treatment system that is sending ammonia into the stream.

Hernwood was closed in 1982. Despite agreeing to cap the entire landfill in 1988, sixteen years later the county still has not done so.

The county also agreed to prevent leachate from contaminating groundwater and control erosion at the site. Several consent agreements later, the problems remain.

In October 2002 the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a $10 million loan to the county to cap the northern part of the landfill, but after nearly two years Baltimore County still has not submitted plans for closing and capping the area.

A consent agreement between MDE and the county has been proposed for the Eastern Landfill. In addition to paying a negotiated penalty to settle past violations, the consent order would establish a firm plan and time schedule to make necessary corrections at the Eastern Landfill to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

In a series of inspections during 2003, MDE found that leachate was leaking from the landfill, sediment and leachate was draining into wetlands that lead to Gunpowder Falls, and that discolored, malodorous runoff was entering various streams. Despite assurances from the county that the problems would be fixed, the county has delayed action to correct them.