The Maryland Department of the Environment enforces State and federal environmental laws to protect public health and our land, air, water and wetlands resources.
“Enforcement is an important part of what we do to protect public health and keep our communities clean, and we do this with a balanced and common-sense approach,” said Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles. “The Department of the Environment works in collaboration with facilities to ensure they are in compliance with all requirements, but we will go after polluters and impose financial penalties when needed. We are committed to changing Maryland for the better – protecting and restoring our environment while providing businesses with clear expectations and a level playing field among the regulated entities.”
The majority of the Department’s enforcement and compliance activities involve working with permit holders to correct any minor deficiencies with no formal enforcement action taken or financial penalties assessed. This assistance may be the most efficient method to achieve compliance. If an inspection reveals a significant violation, or if minor violations continue to recur and become a significant problem, then enhanced actions are warranted. Such action may take the form of penalties, corrective orders, the filing of injunctions and, in some cases, criminal sanctions.
The Department took 7,676 enforcement actions in Fiscal Year 2015, as reported in the Annual Enforcement and Compliance Report. Below are enforcement actions brought to a resolution between January 1, 2016, and March 31, 2016, with financial penalties of $10,000 or more.
The Department of the Environment’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program serves as the coordinating agency for statewide efforts to eliminate childhood lead poisoning. Under the 1994 "Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Act,” the Department assures compliance with mandatory requirements for lead risk reduction in rental units built before 1978, maintains a statewide listing of registered and inspected units and provides blood lead surveillance through a registry of test results of all children tested in Maryland. Alleged violations typically involve a failure to register properties or meet lead risk-reduction standards. The following actions were for properties alleged to be out of compliance with lead risk-reduction standards:
SMS Developers, Limited Liability Company (a/k/a SMS Developers LLC), Purnell Shortall and Mary Ann Shortall - Cambridge, Cordova, Denton, Easton, Federalsburg, Hillsboro, Hurlock, Oxford, Preston, Queen Anne and Ridgely, Caroline County, Dorchester County, Queen Anne’s County and Talbot County: 41 affected properties – On February 22, 2016, the Department entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order to resolve alleged violations of Maryland’s lead law. The defendants agreed to a penalty of $35,000.
Estate of Mary Beach and Deborah Beach – Frederick, Frederick County: 3 affected properties – On February 22, 2016, the Department entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order to resolve alleged violations of Maryland’s lead law. The defendants agreed to a penalty of $10,000.
The Mining Program regulates all surface coal and non-coal mining in the State and the surface effects from deep mining of coal. The purpose of mining permits is to minimize the effects of sediment and other pollution from surface mining. In addition to environmental controls, the permit provides for proper land reclamation and ensures public safety.
York Building Products Company, Inc. – Cecil County: On January 12, 2016, the Department issued a Notice of Violation requiring compliance with Maryland’s Surface Mine Permit and seeking $30,000 for alleged violations. The penalty has been paid in full.
The risks associated with scrap tires include: fire, which can release toxic fumes and oils into the air, soil, surface waters, and groundwater; mosquito, rodent, snake, and other vector infestations, which can spread diseases such as West Nile Virus and malaria; and release of other pollutants to the environment. Disposing of scrap tires in an open dump or in a landfill in Maryland is prohibited. Any company or individual that generates, hauls, or processes (including recycles, uses as fuel, or processes at a solid waste acceptance facility) scrap tires must obtain a license from the Maryland Department of the Environment. These licenses require the licensees to properly handle, transfer or process scrap tires to protect public health and the environment. All licensees are required to submit semi-annual reports each February 1 and August 1 documenting the quantity and location of all scrap tires that were generated, hauled, transferred and processed during the preceding six-month reporting period.
Faye P. Mizzell – Prince George’s County: On January 4, 2016, the Department entered into a Settlement Agreement and Consent Order to resolve alleged violations of Maryland’s scrap tires law. The defendant agreed to a penalty of $10,000.
State law prohibits the discharge of any pollutant into waters of the State, unless such discharge is in compliance with the terms, conditions, and requirements of a discharge permit. A person must hold a discharge permit issued by MDE before the person may construct, install, modify, extend, alter or operate any facility or disposal system or any other outlet or establishment if its operation could cause or increase the discharge of pollutants into waters of the State.
State law requires that property owners notify the Department of the Environment before conducting any work in tidal and nontidal wetlands, their buffers, and waterways of the State. The Department assesses the impact of any work on tidal and nontidal wetlands and, if appropriate, will issue a permit authorizing the work. The regulations governing wetlands were developed to protect the State’s natural resources that depend on those wetlands and minimize impacts while allowing property owners reasonable use of their property.
State law requires that, prior to performing construction activity, a person obtain and implement a Soil Conservation District-approved erosion and sediment control plan for any proposed land clearing or earth disturbance greater than 5,000 square feet that must be maintained for the life of the project. It is unlawful for any person to introduce soil or sediment into waters of the State or to place soil or sediment in a condition or location where it is likely to be washed into waters of the State.
State law requires that any activity involving earth disturbance over one acre requires a General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activity. This permit requires the implementation of an approved erosion and sediment control plan prior to performing earth grading operations as well as self-monitoring inspections of the erosion and sediment controls.
State law requires any project that impacts waterways, including the 100 year floodplain, shall be authorized by a State Waterway Construction Permit. Construction must proceed in accordance with the permit conditions and the Maryland Department of the Environment-approved plan. The laws and regulations governing construction projects were developed to protect the State’s natural resources while allowing property owners reasonable use of their property.
Pepco Holdings / Delmarva Power and Light – Worcester, Kent and Queen Anne’s County: On March 23, 2016, Pepco Holdings paid $45,000 to the Maryland Department of the Environment to resolve alleged non-tidal wetland violations that occurred during the completion of the Worcester County Transmission Project on October 3, 2015, and the completion of the Kent County and Queen Anne’s County distribution projects on March 31, 2015.
Rockville Feed and Fuel – Montgomery County: On March 17, 2016, Rockville Feed and Fuel paid $10,000 to the Maryland Department of the Environment to resolve alleged water pollution violations that occurred in Rockville between March 31, 2015, and April 8, 2015. The alleged violations have been corrected.
Newland Park Municipal Landfill – Wicomico County: On January 18, 2016, the Maryland Department of the Environment and Wicomico County entered into a Consent Order to resolve alleged violations involving: the failure to implement sediment control measures necessary to prevent sediment pollution; the failure to prevent untreated leachate discharges to waters of the State; and the failure to develop, maintain and implement an accurate stormwater pollution prevention plan for the facility. The Consent Order requires the implementation of an approved environmental project at a minimum cost of $198,000. The approved project requires the removal of all impervious surfaces at the San Domingo Property, the permanent stabilization of all soils and planting of trees and vegetation. Stipulated penalties are also included for failure to comply with the requirements of the Consent Order. The alleged violations have been corrected.
Universal Trade Solutions, Inc. – Baltimore County:
On January 11, 2016, Universal Trade Solutions, Inc. paid $13,200 to the Maryland Department of the Environment to resolve alleged water pollution violations that occurred between March 11, 2015, and June 18, 2015, in Dundalk. The alleged violations were corrected.
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