Following a tip from an environmental group about a Baltimore scrapyard, state inspectors ultimately wrote up the company for 11 violations after seeing sediment, oil and possibly other contaminants washing off the cluttered, debris-strewn site into storm drains that eventually reach the Patapsco River. Nineteen months later, the case remains unresolved, even though documents obtained under Maryland’s Public Information Act show that follow-up inspections by the MDE found new and continuing violations there for months after the initial visit. The state considered imposing a half-million-dollar penalty, but never fined the company nor took harsher enforcement action.
A 14-mile reservoir behind the Conowingo hydroelectric generating dam in northern Maryland stops two million pounds of sediment every year from flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. But another one million pounds get through, burying underwater grasses that support sea life and adding to the bay’s myriad pollution problems.
The reservoir that stores the sediment is expected to reach capacity within 20 years, after which all of the sediment will get through the dam, putting the bay’s health further at risk. The dam’s owner, the state and environmental groups are seeking solutions to the problem.
The state is considering plans to allow developers to pay for enhanced pollution controls on other land as a way to permit them to build in areas that might be off limits under new sustainable growth rules, environment officials told lawmakers on Wednesday.
A series of nine amendments to the O’Malley administration’s septic bill cleared the Senate Friday evening, preserving longstanding control of septic use by local planning authorities. The administration worked on the deal with the Maryland Association of Counties, farmers, developers and builders to salvage passage of the controversial measure. Liberal Democrats opposed the compromise.
Auditors found serious problems at the Maryland Department of the Environment, including questionable grants paid out of the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, failure to do required safety screenings and construction site inspections and undisclosed computer system issues.
While unusually heavy rains are causing minor flooding in Maryland and overwhelming dams and levees along the Mississippi River basin, Maryland Department of the Environment officials assured the Board of Public Works Wednesday they are working to ensure that the more than 400 dams across the state stay solid.