BALTIMORE, MD. – On Feb. 2, 2022, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Secretary Ben Grumbles and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Dorchester County against Winchester, Va.-based poultry rendering facility, Valley Proteins. The complaint seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and civil penalties for violations of environmental laws and regulations in the state of Maryland.
Valley Proteins reported 40 effluent violations over a period of 598 days in its required discharge monitoring reports from April 2019 through October 2021. MDE conducted inspections from January 2019 through January 2022 and found additional violations including pollutants in a position likely to pollute waters of the state, which included into a nearby tributary of the Transquaking River; failure to implement stormwater pollution plan best management practices; numerous violations of total residual chlorine exceedances; unauthorized discharges of wastewater, sludge, and solids; and failure to operate the wastewater treatment plant with a certified operator.
“The Valley Proteins facility’s recent compliance record indicates a pattern of improper operations and poor decision making that threatens our water and air quality,” Grumbles said on the Maryland.gov website. “When significant violations are observed, MDE has an obligation to take equitable and timely enforcement action to ensure environmental accountability and to deter future violations.”
Frosh added, “We intend to prove that Valley Proteins has violated the law and put at risk fragile ecosystems and the waters of the state. The complaint seeks to hold Valley Proteins accountable for the harm it has caused and to ensure that it does no further damage.”
MDE also discovered 89 parametric monitoring deviations on the air pollution control equipment, as well as violations of continuous air monitoring. Valley proteins addressed the issue by installing new monitoring equipment and performing maintenance on its scrubbers. Follow-up inspections confirmed the plant came back into compliance with its air emissions permit, but another inspection in October, MDE detected odors beyond the property line and there have been multiple complaints of odors in the surrounding neighborhood.
An Interim Consent Order issued on Dec. 23, 2021, prohibits Valley Proteins from discharging until the facility can comply with their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit effluent limits and operate consistently within their NPDES permit.