State levies fines against private, public entities for pollution violations

Environmental laws do get enforced, however slowly at times.  The Maryland Department of the Environment announced Wednesday it had taken action against about 18 individuals, companies and local governments for alleged violations of the state's laws governing lead paint and air and water pollution.

Some of the violators listed in the department's release have paid or agreed to pay more than $100,000 in all in penalties, while state regulators are seeking more than twice that much combined in fines against the others.


At least a few of the cases apparently have been dragging on for years.  Lehigh Cement Co., for instance, agreed last month to pay $50,000 for exceeding state limits on fine particulate or soot emissions from its cement kiln in Union Bridge, according to the release.  The alleged violation occurred in 2009, according to MDE spokesman Jay Apperson.

In another long-running case, ICC Constructors, a joint venture involved in building the Intercounty Connector highway across the Washington suburbs, paid $12,000 last month for alleged sediment and water pollution violations during construction work dating back to November 2008.


(Slow as that might seem, the Environmental Protection Agency has at least a few cases that took even longer to wrap up.  One I recently came across involves the Maryland Transit Administration agreeing to pay $250,000 to settle findings that it was not doing enough to prevent storm-water pollution, fuel leaks and hazardous-waste problems at its bus depots and commuter rail yards.  The EPA originally issued a complaint in December 2005 against the state transit agency for alleged violations that dated back to 2004.  It gave notice earlier this year that a settlement had been reached in the case.

("EPA findings revealed shortcomings with the MTA's environmental compliance program," MTA spokesman Terry Owens emailed me, "with the most significant being the MTA's diesel fuel storage tanks not being properly maintained. We concurred with the EPA and immediately began implementing corrective actions to address the concerns raised by the agency."  Those corrective actions are "ongoing," Owens reported. )

Among the other MDE actions announced Wednesday:

- McLean Construction Co. of Baltimore paid $16,000 earlier this month for sediment pollution it allegedly released into the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River while working nearly four years go on creating a harbor dredge disposal impoundment at Masonville Cove for the Maryland Port Admnistration.

- Wooters Excavation LLC was ordered earlier this month to pay $120,000 for sediment pollution and sediment control violations at the Red Hill Run subdivision construction site in Elkton in Cecil County.  The company has 30 days to appeal the administrative judge's order, the release noted.

- Baltimore County's Department of Public Works and Miller Pipeline LLC agreed earlier this month to resolve alleged sediment and water pollution violations that MDE says occurred during a sewer re-lining project. Under the agreement, the pipeline company must pay $5,800 - no mention of a penalty against the county.

- The town of Greensboro in Caroline County paid $20,000 to resolve alleged water pollution violations at its sewage treatment plant, MDE reported.

To see the full list, go here.