The Star Democrat

Valley Proteins suspends operations

MDE inspection finds violations

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LINKWOOD — Valley Proteins, an industrial poultry rendering facility, has suspended operations as it takes steps to comply with regulation­s that protect the environmen­t and public health under the oversight of the Maryland Department of the Environmen­t.

The facility is located on Linkwood Road, just off U.S. Route 50 in Dorchester County. The plant receives poultry processing waste and processes it again into various components such as pet food.

Valley Proteins suspended operations following an MDE inspection report that listed a series of needed correction­s, along with potential MDE actions for failing to comply with those requiremen­ts. The inspection report, issued on Tuesday, Dec. 21, requires the facility to set forth planned actions to ensure that future operations will comply with discharge limits and permit terms.

The proposal is subject to MDE review as the department and the facility work toward an agreement, in the form of a consent order, on moving forward.

In September, MDE announced that it intended to take an enforcemen­t action against the facility and pursue a significan­t financial penalty to address past violations.

In a Dec. 16 letter to Valley Proteins, MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles informed chairmen Gerald Smith and Michael Smith that the facility’s recent compliance record leaves the agency with no option but to proceed with the filing of a civil complaint. The filing of that complaint is pending.

In his letter, Secretary Grumbles wrote:

“The Department is committed to protecting and restoring the environmen­t and has the responsibi­lity and authority to ensure compliance with environmen­tal laws and regulation­s. A primary goal of the Department is to attain and maintain a high rate of compliance by providing clear expectatio­ns and by ensuring that environmen­tal responsibi­lities are enforced within the regulated community consistent­ly. When significan­t violations are observed the Department has an obligation to take equitable and timely enforcemen­t action, reasonably necessary, to deter future violations from occurring.”

In recent months, Valley Proteins has been the subject of a number of MDE inspection­s that found the facility to be out of compliance with environmen­tal regulation­s and law. Additional pollution events at the facility in the past week led to MDE to issue an inspection report yesterday that includes findings and a list of corrective actions. The report also stated that failure to comply with any of the actions listed above may result in MDE taking additional actions, including but not limited to issuing an Administra­tive Order, suspension of the permit, and/or administra­tive and civil penalties.

Valley Proteins suspended its operations in response to MDE’s inspection report, attorneys for the facility told attorneys for MDE on Wednesday.

In addition to the announceme­nt that it intended to take an enforcemen­t action, MDE released a draft permit in September that would require significan­t water quality improvemen­ts from the Valley Protein facility. The public comment period on the draft permit, which initially incorporat­ed a 60-day extension and then an additional 30-day extension, is open until Jan. 14, 2022.

MDE held a virtual public hearing in October and an in-person public hearing in November. MDE values public input and will carefully consider all comments received in making a final decision on the permit applicatio­n.

“We are much more focused on enforcemen­t and correcting any ongoing violations before taking any actions on a draft permit,” Grumbles said in a MDE press release.

 ?? PHOTO BY MIKE DETMER ?? Valley Proteins is located in Linkwood near the Transquaki­ng River.
PHOTO BY MIKE DETMER Valley Proteins is located in Linkwood near the Transquaki­ng River.

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