Holding Polluters Accountable: Our Intent to Sue A Chemical Factory Hazard

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Today, Blue Water Baltimore filed a notice of intent to sue a chemical factory for releasing more than twelve times permitted levels of nitrogen pollution into a tributary to the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay.

The notice is the first legal action to result from a systematic review by our Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper and the Environmental Integrity Project of the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online database (ECHO) and the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI).

The Erachem Comilog Inc. plant was the single largest industrial source of toxic pollution to Maryland’s waterways and the fourth largest source of toxic pollution to Maryland’s environment overall, according to the most recent annual data available (2014) in the federal TRI.

The Erachem plant at 610 Pittman Road in northern Anne Arundel County, just south of Baltimore, is owned by the French mining company ERAMET and processes manganese ore into chemicals for the agricultural and electronics industries.

In 2014 and 2015, the plant dumped more than 170,000 pounds per year of nitrogen from an outfall into Arundel Cove, which leads into Curtis Creek and then the Patapsco River. That far exceeds the plant’s permitted limit of 13,800 pounds per year, state records show.

Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper and the Environmental Integrity Project today sent a notice to the company, Maryland Department of the Environment, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warning of a lawsuit against Erachem unless the plant stops violating its pollution control permit.

It is evident that the role of citizen watchdog is critically important when it comes to holding polluters and government agencies accountable, and Blue Water Baltimore takes this role very seriously.

David Flores, Blue Water Baltimore’s Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, said: “Erachem’s pollution is seriously damaging the health of Curtis Creek and the Patapsco River. These violations are not only egregious in and of themselves, but they have gone on far too long. The company must upgrade its wastewater treatment systems so we can start cleaning up these important waterways and protect the fisheries that belong to all Marylanders.”

Media Coverage

Read more details in the full press release [PDF]

See the text of the notice of intent [PDF]