BALTIMORE, MD – Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, on behalf of the Maryland Department of the Environment, today filed a civil complaint in the Circuit Court for St. Mary’s County against the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission (MetCom) to request civil penalties and an injunction ordering MetCom to cease sewage overflows from its sanitary sewer system and to perform necessary corrective action.
MetCom owns and operates sanitary sewer systems located throughout St. Mary’s County. MetCom’s sanitary sewer systems convey sewage from homes, businesses, and industrial facilities to various wastewater treatment facilities. From 2017 to the present, MetCom discharged at least 2,170,876 gallons of untreated sewage from its sanitary sewer systems in 58 sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) events. These SSOs discharged raw sewage unlawfully to the ground surface, waters of the State, and/or waters of the United States. In addition, oysters that were harvested and served to the public following an SSO on October 28, 2021, purportedly caused an outbreak of foodborne illness in Virginia.
“We have charged MetCom with multiple violations of the most fundamental laws that protect public health and the environment,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Releasing raw sewage could not be more dangerous. We will hold them accountable.”
The complaint requests the Circuit Court to impose civil penalties on MetCom for seven SSOs that occurred in 2022 and an injunction to compel MetCom to cease its SSOs and upgrade its system to operate in compliance with State and federal law.
Dozens fall ill after eating MD oysters from creek state failed to close, MDE acknowledges two-week lag in acting on sewage overflow. WAS ANYONE FIRED?
Not their first rodeo…
Maryland officials waited until people got sick from tainted oysters before taking action, even though they knew raw sewage flowed into the river
BALTIMORE (Jan. 2, 2021) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has issued an emergency order closing a waterway in St. Mary’s County to shellfish harvesting following a report of a sewage overflow.
The order, issued today, applies to a portion of the St. George Creek area of the St. Mary’s River. It became effective immediately to prevent the harvesting of oysters and other shellfish in the immediate future.
MDE is coordinating with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of Health to determine whether oysters were harvested from the area in recent days. An aquaculture operation reported that it was working to track down for recall 600 oysters sold in recent days.
The boneheaded bureaucrats actually said it was unknown to them if oyster harvesting was taking place, even though it is the State of Maryland that enforces exactly who and where oystering takes place!
It was unknown whether any commercial harvesting occurred in the area in recent days, but regulations prohibit commercial harvesting on Wednesdays and on weekends.
The St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission reported the sewage overflow to MDE about 7 p.m. yesterday. The initial report stated that the overflow, which occurred on St. George Island near the Route 249 bridge after a sewer main ruptured, was stopped at 6 p.m. Dec. 31. It is not known when the overflow began, but the commission told MDE it believes, based on site conditions, that the overflow likely occurred for no more than three days. MDE’s preliminary investigation shows an overflow of three days would likely result in a discharge of between 4,000 and 6,750 gallons.
Shellfish are filter feeders with the ability to filter water and get food from microscopic organisms in the water. If the waters are polluted, this filtering process can concentrate disease-causing organisms associated with raw sewage and other sources, such as animal waste. Oysters and clams are often eaten raw or partially cooked and must come from waters that are not polluted.
MDE monitors bacteriological water quality and conducts pollution source surveys to determine which areas are safe for the harvesting of shellfish. Information on shellfish harvesting areas is available on MDE’s website.
Today’s emergency order will remain in effect until Jan. 21. The emergency order does not apply to fishing and crabbing.