After reports of dead fish and “volcanoes of black stuff” in Back River, MDE cracks down on sewage treatment plant
by Fern Shen
Published March 26 in Baltimore Brew
Excerpt: In the wake of last summer’s news coverage highlighting massive illegal releases of partly treated sewage and serious operational failures at Baltimore’s two treatment plants, the city was already facing lawsuits filed by the state and by Blue Water Baltimore.
The environmental watchdog group has been working for the past two months with the city and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to craft a consent decree to bring the polluting plants into compliance.
Corrective actions, Baltimore’s Department of Public Works (DPW) assured the public, were being taken.
But on a visit to the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant in Dundalk Tuesday – triggered by citizen reports of a fish kill and floating solids in the river – inspectors found that the problems have worsened:
Settling tanks, filters and other components at the facility were clogged with scum and solids and rendered inoperable.
Some equipment was choked with reeds, grasses, vines and algae; some areas reeked of “sewer gas” (corrosive hydrogen sulfide).
In one instance, the inspectors observed “a floating layer of emulsified fats, oils and grease.”
And only two of the 11 primary settling tanks were in service, with one of them requiring maintenance to function properly.
BREAKING: State takes control of Baltimore’s troubled Back River sewage treatment plant
by Fern Shen
Published March 29 in Baltimore Brew
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