Maryland sues waste management company for $2.1M over river pollution

Maryland sues waste management company for $2.1M over river pollution

The state claims Columbia-based Ecology Services Inc. operated without a permit and violated a stormwater discharge agreement for a site in Pasadena.

As reported by the Capital Gazette, the state of Maryland has sued Columbia-based Ecology Services Inc. for an estimated $2.1 million on claims that the company operated without a permit for most of last year and violated a stormwater discharge agreement at a site in Pasadena.

The lawsuit includes two counts against the waste management and recycling company for alleged violations at its Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard property. One count is for operating without a permit for 213 days from Jan. 3 to Aug. 3, 2020. It comes with a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each day with a permit, according to the suit.

The second count is for four times breaching multiple parts of a stormwater discharge agreement issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment in August. The suit states that the state is seeking $10,000 per day for that violation.

“We have a strong case and a clear urgency to take enforcement action now. We were already looking at a possible enforcement action weeks ago and as soon as we confirmed the noncompliance and the gravity of the situation, we wanted to take action immediately,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles in a statement. “It’s important to prevent further harm and send a strong signal to all that violations of stormwater pollution will not be tolerated.”

During a series of visits to the property last year starting on Jan. 3, 2020, the Capital Gazette reports state inspectors observed numerous violations, including vehicles tracking sediment onto Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, which “mixes with stormwater from the Boulevard and is discharged to the Magothy River.”

Other violations included unpaved roadways, waste storage containers, vehicle parts and trash exposed to precipitation and signs of soil stains indicating the discharge of oil at the site.

According to the lawsuit, Ecology Services stores, operates and fuels its fleet of trucks used to serve the greater Anne Arundel County at the site near Lake Waterford. The company also stores waste containers and vehicle parts there—actions considered “industrial activity” that require general and discharge permits—which Ecology Services did not have at the time.

Those permits require permitholders to contain runoff, minimize erosion and sediment discharge and keep chemicals, waste and other materials from leaking into nearby waterways.

Follow-up inspections on Feb. 12, and Feb. 21, Sept. 10, and Oct. 16, 2020, found additional violations, including continued sediment tracking, vehicle parts and “stains on the ground from unknown liquids, and unidentified containers exposed to precipitation in un-paved areas...,” according to the lawsuit.

On Aug. 3, the state and Ecology Services agreed to a consent order for the site to control polluted stormwater discharge at the property. Inspectors witnessed additional violations after the consent order was agreed, some as recently as March 18, 2021.