POCOMOKE CITY, Md. - The Maryland Department of the Environment has issued a complaint to Pocomoke City, alleging that solid waste was not properly managed at the wastewater treatment plant.
December 5th, MDE issued the complaint, which says the city violated state laws for solid waste management and sewage sludge utilization, by operating an open dump at the waste water treatment facility.
According to the city manager, materials were being stored onsite as part of erosion control work.
"All the work that has been done would've been allowed by permit 37:51 except there was, by oversight, a permit was not obtained in advance," says City Manager Russell Blake, "I want to assure all of our residents that there's been no environmental damage, there's been no pollution or any other material getting into the groundwater or the Pocomoke River."
The Department of the Environment has given Pocomoke City until January 31st to submit a clean up plan, which the city manager say's they're on track to complete.
The City Manager released the following statement:
Pocomoke City is working closely with the Maryland Department of Environment
(M.D.E.) to resolve some concerns that have recently come to our attention. One concern
relates to grading work that was begun to stabilize the berms around the lagoons at the City's
Waste Water Treatment Plant (W.W.T.P.). The City believes that this erosion control work
(which was recommended by M.D.E.) was allowed under the City's existing Storm water
Pollution Prevention Plan for the WWTP as previously approved by M.D.E. However, in early
December, the City was notified that another permit (Erosion and Sediment Control Plan)
should also have been obtained because the area disturbed exceeded 5,000 square feet. The
work done at the W.W.T.P. would have been allowed if a permit was obtained in advance.
Upon notification, the City has hired an engineering firm to prepare the additional plan which
should be completed before December31. The new plan will include moving several piles of
soil and fill material from an nearby temporary storage site back to their place of origin on the
berms, to be used in the erosion control project. Once this second permit is approved, the berm stabilization work will be resumed.
Another concern relates to a City-owned lot near the WWTP that has been used
recently for temporary storage of materials to be recycled. Those materials include clean fill
dirt, broken concrete, bricks, and asphalt from recent street and sidewalk projects. MDE has
advised the City that, since there appear to be hydric soils or hydrophytic vegetation on the
site, this may indicate that there have been impacts to non-tidal wetlands. In response, the
City has arranged for a wetland delineation of the site to be done within one week, with results
to be sent to MDE. Following receipt of necessary approvals, the soil materials stored on the
site will be removed for recycling as cover material at a local landfill, while the concrete and
similar materials will be recycled for re-use in the construction industry.
Pocomoke City has always been protective of our local environment. Our state-of-the
art waste water treatment plant went on-line in 2011, and is producing clean effluent that is
monitored daily before release to the river. In 2012, a new Ultra-Violet disinfection system
was added to eliminate chlorine. The City operates recycling centers at two locations in town.
And in 2014, a new solar electric generating system will be built on City-owned property, which will produce enough renewable energy to cover approximately 85% of the City's
No sewage or other contaminants have been released to the ground water or to the
Pocomoke River. The City will continue to work diligently with M.D.E. and our engineers to resolve all concerns within the next 60 days.