BALTIMORE, MD (October 6, 2005) – New Earth Services (NES), the Dorchester County composting facility charged with violating state water pollution laws, has withdrawn its appeal of a Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) clean up order and must work to restore the site and close the facility, MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick announced today. Withdrawal of the appeal means MDE’s order is final, binding and takes effect immediately.
Before the start of testimony at a scheduled hearing on MDE’s complaint and order today at Maryland’s Office of Administrative Hearings in Hunt Valley, NES withdrew its appeal of the order. Dorchester County, whose legal responsibility under the order derives solely from its ownership of the site, withdrew its appeal as well.
On July 27, MDE issued an administrative complaint, order, and administrative penalty assessment to NES and Dorchester County to bring the NES site into compliance through the implementation of a final closure plan, which MDE must approve.
“Continuing violations of water pollution laws are not tolerated and this agency acts to protect waters and the related environment,” Secretary Philbrick said. “Though NES provided a valuable service in that region of the state, its practices were not ecologically sound, despite continued efforts by the department to have the company install new technology and implement Best Management Practices to prevent ground and surface water contamination.”
Under the order, NES must:
- Immediately cease receiving new shipments of raw waste for composting;
- Remove all stockpiled raw waste from the site;
- Submit a closure plan and a timeframe for removal of all curing or finished stockpiles of compost from the site.
- Pay a $50,000 penalty.
Until this time, NES operated 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. Leachate and runoff of pollutants have adversely impacted ground and surface waters of the state, namely Gravel Run.
MDE stream assessments showed adverse impacts to surface waters directly below the NES site, including high concentrations of ammonia and total Kjeldahl nitrogen, extensive growth of iron bacteria and fungus, sedimentation, and extensive mats of filamentous algae.
The operation continued to expand and during large rain events in 2003, the facility’s ponds were breached, compounding stream pollution/sedimentation problems. NES failed to implement adequate containment or treatment for its large compost windrows or raw product piles.
Sampling to date by MDE and the Dorchester County Health Department has shown that drinking water wells in the area have not been impacted by NES. MDE continues to coordinate with local health department officials in their effort to address any local drinking water well issues.