BALTIMORE, MD (August 18, 2005) -- A sampling of homes in the area of a troubled composting facility on Maryland’s Eastern Shore indicates the facility has not impacted water supplies at those residences, despite allegations in recent media reports.
“Dorchester County health department and MDE officials sampled drinking water wells in the vicinity of New Earth Services (NES) for signs of contamination and results indicate that the wells meet drinking water standards for nitrates,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “These findings substantiate our original premise that there is no evidence of impacts to drinking water wells in the area or risk to public health from NES.”
Between Aug. 8 and 15 Dorchester Environmental Health Administration (EHA) officials and MDE staffers gathered well samples from 7 homes in the vicinity of NES, all of which met drinking water standards. MDE and the county intend to sample 10 additional wells located within 2,000 feet of the facility. MDE and the county are contacting homeowners to coordinate collection of those samples.
Quality controlled and assured results indicate low to non-detectable Nitrite-Nitrate nitrogen levels in the domestic wells immediately surrounding the facility. All wells were also tested for E. coli and coliform bacteria. Results for all but one sample were below detection limits. MDE and the county are retesting the single affected well for coliform and believe the possible bacterial contamination is unrelated to the NES facility.
On July 27, the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Water Management Administration issued an administrative complaint, order, and administrative penalty assessment to NES and Dorchester County to bring the company’s leased site into compliance with state water discharge and pollution control laws and implement a final closure plan for the facility. A $50,000 penalty for past violations was directed at NES as part of that order. New Earth Services has requested a contested case hearing on MDE’s order. Under Maryland law, the order is stayed pending a final determination. The trial is expected to occur by mid-September before the Office of Administrative Hearings. In the meantime, MDE inspectors are onsite regularly to monitor the company’s actions.
NES operates a 30-acre agricultural composting facility on property leased from Dorchester County since 1995, adjacent to the county’s Beulah Landfill. The material being composted consists of crab chum, poultry manure and litter, poultry byproducts, horse manure, wood chips and other wastes from food processing. Raw product stockpiles are not lined or contained.