Maryland sues waste collection company for $2.1 million over polluted runoff

A satellite image of Ecology Services Inc.'s Pasadena site, the subject of a lawsuit alleging stormwater runoff polluting the Magothy River. (Courtesy Google Earth)
A satellite image of Ecology Services Inc.’s Pasadena site, the subject of a state lawsuit over stormwater runoff polluting the Magothy River located a short distance to the south. (Courtesy Google Earth)
Maryland officials are suing a local waste management and recycling business for over $2.1 million on accusations of polluting the Magothy River with potentially contaminated mud and sediment runoff.

The complaint, filed Tuesday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court by the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, alleges Columbia-based Ecology Services Inc. failed to resolve an issue with polluted stormwater draining from its facility in Pasadena, which the company uses for heavy vehicle storage and refueling.

During a series of inspections in 2020, the suit says MDE observed evidence of “unpermitted discharges of pollutants” from the site, including the possible leakage of oil from trash containers and vehicles parts. Stormwater from the area mixes with runoff from Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, which then feeds south into the nearby Magothy.

Ecology Services agreed to a consent order last August allowing its Pasadena site to continue running, subject to pollution-control conditions. The suit claims subsequent inspections revealed continued breaches of those requirements.

Maryland officials are seeking a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each of four days they observed the site violating its pollution prevention plan, as well as an injunction compelling the site to comply with the plan.

On a second count, the state alleges Ecology Services ran the facility without a permit from Jan. 3 to Aug. 3 in 2020. MDE is asking for a separate court-imposed penalty of up to $10,000 for each day of unauthorized operation — totaling about $2.1 million over 213 days.

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Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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