Yesterday, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) issued a new draft wastewater permit for the Valley Proteins chicken rendering facility, which is the largest point source polluter in the Transquaking River watershed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
The draft permit was released for public review following years of attempts by environmental and community organizations to compel MDE to update Valley Proteins’ current permit, which EPA records show Valley Proteins has consistently violated. That permit expired in 2006 and has been administratively continued by MDE ever since.
In April, our organizations—ShoreRivers, Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth (DCPG), and Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF)—filed a notice of intent to file a lawsuit against Valley Proteins for violating its wastewater permit. ShoreRivers and Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth (DCPG) are being represented by Chesapeake Legal Alliance in the effort.
In response to MDE’s issuance of the draft permit, representatives of our organizations issued the following statements:
Alan Girard, Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Eastern Shore Director:
“For years, CBF has been concerned about Valley Proteins’ operations and the ways in which the polluted wastewater the company pumps into the Transquaking River has harmed water quality. We’re encouraged MDE is finally taking steps to update the facility’s wastewater permit after more than a decade of inaction. However, appropriate actions must be taken in response to the company’s repeated violations of the current permit and to ensure there is a commitment from Valley Proteins to comply with new pollution limits.”
Fred Pomeroy, President of Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth:
"After seven years of advocacy on this issue, DCPG is pleased to finally get affirmation from MDE that the longstanding pollution issues will be addressed in the Transquaking River. We are committed to working with the agency, our attorneys at Chesapeake Legal Alliance, partner organizations, and Valley Proteins to make sure that happens."
Matt Pluta, Director of Riverkeeper Programs, ShoreRivers:
"Valley Proteins’ permit expired in 2006 and MDE has let it continue operating without updated controls for 15 years. This is the oldest zombie permit in the state. We look forward to continue working to make sure the permit has modern limits and all past violations are addressed."
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