BALTIMORE -- Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and the Maryland Department of the Environment on Monday announced a settlement with an Eastern Shore poultry processing facility accused of dumping harmful pollutants into the Chesapeake Bay.
Valley Proteins, Inc., located in the Dorchester County town of Linkwood, Maryland, has to pay a $540,000 fine and improve its facility after discharging harmful pollutants into the Transquaking River for more than a year, regulators said.
"Valley Proteins repeatedly discharged harmful pollutants - including nitrogen, phosphorus and fecal coliform - into a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay," said Attorney General Frosh. "These violations of our environmental laws threatened fragile ecosystems and our treasured Chesapeake Bay. This settlement and hefty penalty sends a strong message to Valley Proteins and others that they are not free to pollute Maryland's waters and air."
In February, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General sued the company on behalf of the Maryland Department of the Environment in the Circuit Court for Dorchester County.
Inspections by environmental regulators from 2019 to 2022 found multiple violations, "including unauthorized discharges of wastewater, sludge and raw chicken parts, and failure to take steps to prevent runoff of poultry solids," the Maryland Department of the Environment said. There was also air pollution caused by "malfunctioning odor-control equipment," the agency said.
"We are pleased to now have a strong, enforceable agreement that will allow this important facility that serves the agriculture community to continue to operate while achieving environmental compliance and helping us to meet our water and air quality goals," Maryland Secretary of the Environment Horacio Tablada.
Under the terms of a consent decree, Valley Proteins must correct storm water violations, inspect its wastewater lagoons and upgrade wastewater treatment, among other changes, state officials said.
Valley Proteins collects poultry processing waste and food waste, such as fat and bone trimmings and waste cooking oils, and turns them into animal feed, according to its website.
Texas-based Darling Ingredients announced last December it was acquiring Valley Proteins for $1.1 billion, which includes 18 rendering plants and used cooking oil facilities throughout the mid-Atlantic, south and southeast, according to a press release.
The acquisition was finalized in May.
A representative for Darling Ingredients did not immediately return a request for comment.
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