BALTIMORE, MD (October 3, 2005) -- On Sept. 30, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) issued an administrative complaint, order and $50,000 penalty to Hanover Foods Corporation in response to violations of Maryland’s water pollution control laws and regulations at Hanover Foods’ vegetable processing facility in Ridgely [Caroline County].
The complaint alleges that Hanover Foods has failed to comply with the requirements of its groundwater discharge permit since February 2002. The violations include unlawful discharges to surface waters by means of a drainage ditch to an unnamed tributary of the Choptank River that flows to the Chesapeake Bay. Hanover Foods’ wastewater contains excess nutrients due to processing of the raw vegetables. Excess nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, lead to degraded water quality, which negatively impact the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries.
“The Choptank River and Chesapeake Bay are both impaired waters due to high levels of nutrients,” said MDE Secretary Kendl Philbrick “Bringing permitted facilities like Hanover Foods into compliance with their discharge permits is an essential step in eliminating these impairments and restoring water quality for the benefit of all Marylanders.”
Also identified in the complaint are violations of monitoring and reporting requirements of the permit and violations of the land application restrictions for wastewater spray irrigation activities. Finally, the complaint alleges that Hanover Foods violated its permit requirement to develop and implement a nutrient management plan and failed to properly operate and maintain its wastewater treatment facility.
Hanover Foods generates more than 400,000 gallons of process wastewater each day. The company treats that wastewater to remove solids and discharges the treated wastewater by means of spray irrigation, under an MDE-issued groundwater discharge permit. The permit requires the wastewater to be land applied according to a nutrient management plan to prevent nitrogen and phosphorus from leaching into groundwater. It further prohibits spray irrigation when land is frozen or saturated to prevent pollutants from running off into nearby surface waters
In addition to a $50,000 administrative penalty, the order requires that:
- Hanover Foods eliminate all unauthorized discharges, reduce the discharge of wastewater from the facility to 1995 levels consistent with those identified in a September 1995 permit application submitted by the facility’s previous owner;
- Submit an application for permit modifications to address changes in the nature and/or generation rate of process wastewater since the facility was purchased by Hanover Foods;
- Provide a written description of interim measures that can be taken to address wastewater storage and minimization, submit a final plan to provide a minimum wastewater storage capacity of 60-days or eliminate the unlawful discharge of wastewater and provide an adequate Nutrient Management Plan.
Hanover Foods may request a hearing on the complaint and order within 10 days of receipt of the complaint, and a hearing on the penalty may be requested within 30 days of receipt of the document.