Blue Water Baltimore, Environmental Integrity Project Enter into Settlement Agreement with Baltimore Scrap Corp. and the Maryland Department of the Environment that includes $50,000 Penalty
Baltimore, Md. – In a move that will clean up a scrap yard and reduce runoff pollution into the Patapsco River, Blue Water Baltimore and the Environmental Integrity Project today entered into a settlement agreement with Baltimore Scrap Corp. and the Maryland Department of the Environment.
The agreement will resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at the scrap yard located across the river from Fort McHenry, in the Fairfield area of south Baltimore. The settlement includes an enforceable schedule for the construction and implementation of stormwater pollution controls to minimize the amount of toxic metals and other contaminants in the scrapyard’s stormwater discharges.
“The elevated levels of toxic contaminants we saw in water quality tests from this site are a concern for people’s health and that of our ecosystem,” said Angela Haren, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper and Director of Advocacy at Blue Water Baltimore. “We appreciate the commitments that Baltimore Scrap has made in this settlement, and their willingness to find solutions to comply with the Clean Water Act. Our agreement lays a clear path for improvements to the site’s stormwater management so that its stormwater is properly treated and does not contaminate the harbor.”
A review of discharge monitoring reports and reports documenting site inspections performed by Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) inspectors raised concerns for Blue Water Baltimore over the scrapyard’s stormwater discharges into Baltimore Harbor and the Patapsco River.
Three-party settlement negotiations between Baltimore Scrap, MDE, and Blue Water Baltimore (which is represented by the Environmental Integrity Project on the matter), began after the prerequisite notice of intent to sue letter under the Clean Water Act, alleging violations of the general permit’s requirements, was sent to Baltimore Scrap.
In addition to the site upgrades, Baltimore Scrap will undertake additional and more frequent monitoring, including for oil and grease, improve stormwater management practices, submit regular updates to its stormwater pollution prevention plan, and pay a civil penalty of $50,000 to the Maryland Clean Water Fund.
Many of the requirements in the agreement are subject to stipulated penalties. Documentation of the work performed by Baltimore Scrap will be submitted to MDE, Blue Water Baltimore, and the Environmental Integrity Project, which will ensure public access to information regarding Baltimore Scrap’s compliance with both the agreement and the state’s general stormwater permit.
“This agreement with Baltimore Scrap and MDE goes further than the state’s general permit for industrial sites by creating enforceable deadlines, requiring additional and more frequent monitoring, making documents publicly available, and imposing penalties if the site is unable to properly address unacceptable levels of pollutants” said Sylvia Lam, attorney at the Environmental Integrity Project. “In addition, an added benefit of our agreement is there is now an established path that MDE can pursue to enforce the state’s general stormwater permit.”
Lam noted that enforcing Maryland’s general permit for industrial sites can be challenging, because unlike an individual pollution control permit, the general permit contains pollution targets called “benchmarks,” exceedances of which are not considered permit violations.
In addition, under the state’s general permit, sites are only required to monitor their stormwater discharges once per quarter (i.e., once every three months) and scrapyards are not required to sample for oil and grease. The state’s general permit is up for review and re-approval by MDE next year, and advocates are urging the state to strengthen it, such as by adding deadlines for cleanups.
Blue Water Baltimore is nonprofit organization with a mission to restore Baltimore’s rivers, streams and harbor to foster a healthy environment, a strong economy and thriving communities.
The Environmental Integrity Project is a 15-year-old nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, based in Washington D.C., dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health.