Update:

PRESS RELEASE: MD Attorney General and MDE Files Complaint Against Valley Protein

Attorney General Frosh, Secretary Grumbles File Complaint Against Valley Proteins Complaint Seeks Injunctive Relief and Civil Penalties, February 2nd, 2022.

Circuit Court Complaint

Complaint for Penalties and Permanent Injunctive Relief and Civil Penalties Filed in the Circuit Court for Dorchester County.

Lawsuit Against Valley Protein

Maryland Attorney General and MDE Secretary file a complaint in Dorchester County Circuit Court against Valley Protein on February 2nd, 2022.

MDE and Valley Proteins: Consent Order

Consent order to address ongoing violations includes a fine for non-compliance of only $250 per day.

MDE Shuts Down Valley Proteins in Linkwood for Discharge Violations

As reported in the Chesapeake Bay Journal, MDE shut down the Linkwood Valley Proteins facility after following up on complaints about new and ongoing discharge violations.

Transquaking River Watershed

Summary of Relevant Issues:

  • DCPG has been conducting independently analyzed water testing of six sites in Dorchester County since 2012.

  • DCPG has been advocating for citizen awareness and regulatory responsibility regarding continued serious pollution of the Transquaking River since 2014, when the VP facility applied to increase its wastewater discharge into the river’s upper tributary by nearly fourfold, from 150,000 gals/day (current level) to 575,000 gals/day.

  • Since 2014, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has allowed VP to continue to operate with an expired discharge permit, or so-called “Zombie permit” under a process called “administrative continuance.”

  • During that interval, VP has created numerous violations of discharge limits for nitrogen, phosphorus, and fecal coliform, including 200 chlorine discharge violations unreported until recently.

  • On April 13, 2021, DCPG joined with Shore Rivers, Chesapeake Bay Foundation(CBF), and the Chesapeake Legal Alliance(CLA) to announce our intent to bring a lawsuit against Valley Protein for violating its wastewater permit.

  • Since then, attorneys from CLA and CBF have been in negotiations with MDE and Valley Protein to try to hammer out a three party “consent decree” by which VP would agree to reduce its pollution loads and begin to operate under stricter regulation within the terms of a proposed new discharge permit.

  • The terms of this new permit have been outlined by MDE in a recently issued “tentative determination” which includes MDE’s intention to issue VP said permit. The tentative determination outlines stronger pollution limits but allows VP to choose between two operational discharge levels, their current level of 150,000 gals/day or the fourfold increase level of 575,000 gals/day originally requested by VP in 2014.

  • The hearing in Linkwood was well attended. Many citizens voiced concerns. MDE will also accept written comments by letter or email on the proposed permit until 5 pm, Dec. 15, 2021.

Drone View trans.jpg

For your reference, the draft permit, fact sheet and a detailed summary of changes are available on MDE’s website at:

Points to Consider in Preparing Testimony:

  • The Transquaking is a small and fragile system that feeds directly into the tidal waters of Fishing Bay and on into the Chesapeake. Pollution has long been so serious in this system that public notices warning against swimming and consuming fish have been posted downstream from the Linkwood area. MDE’s own mission statement identifies them as an agency charged with preserving and restoring the public waters of Maryland. The current estimate is that VP produces approximately 40% of the waterway’s pollution.

  • At a virtual hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021 the owner of Higgins Mill Pond – which receives the downstream flow of the upper Transquaking- testified that two dogs belonging to his family died from exposure to a toxic bacteria within 24 hours of swimming in these waters.

  • In July 2020, another property owner on the shores of the Mill Pond reported to DCPG that he observed a large-scale fish kill in the Pond. DCPG reported this spill to MDE and their representative promised to record the event. No action was taken in response to this fish kill.

  • In August 2020, a local farmer reported to DCPG that an employee of VP had called him to report that a cooker at the facility had malfunctioned and that truckloads of incoming unprocessed chicken offal were “being dumped on the parking lot.” He reported a state of panic at the facility. DCPG reported this to MDE through our attorney at CLA which resulted in a site visit. An MDE inspector initially indicated that there was no significant evidence of pollution discharge but a follow up inspection revealed the numerous unreported chlorine discharges mentioned above.

  • Both the current limit of discharge and VP’s requested increased discharge have been given 3 years to come into compliance by MDE. In other words, after years of continued violations, the facility can continue to operate for 3 more years while it supposedly corrects itself. The mechanism for monitoring this self-correction is not stated in the draft permit.

  • The proposed new permit makes almost no mention of the “sludge” issue, a process through which VP transfers the semi-solid waste products of the cooking process onto a trucking company called Denali. Denali has been transporting this unregulated industrial waste into a large holding tank on the Wicomico side of the Nanticoke River from which it is later applied as fertilizer on farmland.

  • Similarly, the proposed new permit does not outline any procedure for addressing the ongoing issue of air pollution and noxious odors emanating from the rendering plant. Currently, residents in the East New Market area are reporting having to close their windows when the wind blows from the direction of the VP plant.

  • While there is a need for handling the byproducts of the large-scale chicken processing industry on the Eastern Shore the VP plant is situated in a terrible location - a small and fragile watershed is being asked to handle waste from a whole region.

Transquaking River Overview

The Transquaking River originates near East New Market and flows south to the Chesapeake Bay through Fishing Bay.  The Transquaking watershed has an area of approximately 69,800 acres and is entirely within Dorchester County.

From East New Market to Higgins Mill Pond is non-navigable and nontidal.  Below Higgins Mill Pond to Fishing Bay is tidal and navigable.  

Higgins Mill Pond was a source of drinking water at one time but now experiences blooms of toxic algae.

Land use in the watershed is approximately 56% forested, 40% agricultural, and 4% urban. 

Under Maryland Surface Water Use Designation of COMAR, the designated use is "water contact recreation, and protection of nontidal warmwater aquatic life." Portions of the lower river have a designated use "support of estuarine and marine aquatic life and shellfish harvesting."

The Integrated Report of Surface Water Quality in Maryland establishes a listing of impaired river segments in the state and establishes limits for the identified pollutants.  The Transquaking River has listings for pollutants including; Total Nitrogen (TN), Total Phosphorous (TP), Total Suspended Solids (TSS), and Impacts to Biological Communities.  The measure of biological health under several indices rates the river as "poor to very poor."

Links for more information:

Water Quality

DCPG has been monitoring water quality at locations on the Transquaking River for 12 years.

Valley Protein Facility Expansion
Water Appropriations & Use Permit

 

Public Documents Associated with Valley Proteins, Inc.  Water Appropriation and Use Permit

No. DO1951G001(11)

Updated October 5, 2018

 

Source: Maryland Department of Environment Water and Science Administration Water Supply Program

Contact: Norman Lazarus, Water Supply Program (410-537-3590)

 

  1. Water Appropriation and Use Permit” Permit #DO1951G001(11) (5 pages) Issued September 15, 2018;

  2. List of property owners (1 page) (Attached as “Appendix A” to “Water Appropriation and Use Permit”). 

  3. Notice to Property Owners and Others:  September 26 transmittal letter to Property owners, public officials, interested persons and the applicant (1 page);  Response to Comments Received; Public Informational hearing held on February 27, 2018 (7 pages) ; Impact Analysis Summary (2 pages); and Fact Sheet Judicial Review Process (1 page).

  4. "Notice of Application Received for State Permit and Opportunity for Hearing Issued January 11, 2018" Dorchester Banner January 10, 2018.

  5. Comments submitted by Susan A. Olsen on behalf of Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth, Inc. (DCPG) March 19, 2018.

  6. Comments and questions submitted by Patricia A. Comella on behalf of the League of Women Voters of the Mid Shore (LWVMS) March 19, 2018.

Air Quality Permit Renewal

 

Public Documents Associated with Valley Proteins, Inc.  Air Quality Permit Renewal Application

No. 019-0029 Updated February 27, 2018

 

Source: Maryland Department of Environment   Air & Radiation Management Administration (ARA)

Contacts: Daniel Davis, PIA Liaison per email Daniel.Davis@maryland.gov, PIA Liaison on 2/1/2018 (tel. 410-537-3209); Marcellina Gurley, MDE-ARA, 410-537-3248 marcie.gurley@maryland.gov

 

  1. Air Quality Permit Renewal Application #019-0029 renewed with effective date of November 1, 2017  and expiration date of October 31, 2022.

  2. E-mail from Marcie Gurley February 27, 2018 regarding odor complaint process and public participation during permit renewal.  Citizens should report odor or nuisance complaints to the Complaint Line at 410-537-3215.  Frank Courtright is the Program Manager of the Air Quality Compliance Program. 

Beaver Run Mobile Home Park

 

Beaver Run Mobile Home Park in Linkwood, MD 21835
Groundwater Permit 14-DP-3811

 

The following documents note points along the last three and half years from the proposed groundwater discharge permit through compliance and non-compliance, and finally toward a consent agreement.