AG Gansler Secures Conviction Against Washington County Polluter
Hamzah Slaughter House pleads guilty and sentenced on seven counts related to polluting tributaries of the Potomac River and failure to obtain permits
Baltimore, MD (June 10, 2014) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that Hamzah Slaughter House, LLC, located in Williamsport, has pleaded guilty to four counts of water pollution and three counts of operating without a discharge permit for dumping waste materials into creek waters that flow directly into a tributary of the Potomac River. Washington County Circuit Court Judge M. Kenneth Long, Jr. sentenced the business to six years of probation and ordered a fine of $175,000, with $100,000 suspended.
"When we stop serious polluters, we get one step closer to having a cleaner Potomac River and a healthier Chesapeake Bay," said Attorney General Gansler. "This case shows what individuals can do by simply reporting the pollution they see or smell whenever and wherever they discover it."
The investigation began on March 22, 2011 in response to a citizen complaint of waterway pollution from slaughter house waste materials near the Washington County facility. Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) inspectors visited the Hamzah Slaughter House, situated on an unnamed tributary of Conococheague Creek, which flows into the Potomac River. The facility butchers sheep, goats and cattle daily, and it includes a slaughter house, barn, skin storage building and outside yards for livestock. Hamzah Slaughter House is required to collect wash-up water and blood in a series of closed underground tanks which would be pumped and hauled daily to a nearby wastewater treatment plant.
MDE inspectors found evidence of blood and wash water running from a building into a stormwater drain and down the driveway to an adjacent grassy area. Mixtures of blood and wash water were also seen flowing from a partially-covered temporary skin storage area into a nearby stormwater drain and subsequently into the creek tributary. Inspectors also noted animal waste piles in a yard area without containment and in an area bordering the tributary. The facility's animal prepping area was not covered or properly contained and inspectors noted a mixture of animal manure and stormwater in a depth greater than two feet, which moved in a continuous stream down an embankment, into the tributary.
It was determined that the facility did not process the required General Discharge Permit for Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activity from the Maryland Department of the Environment. The company also failed to have a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, which sets discharge limits, housekeeping requirements and outlines report and inspection provisions. All of these permitting requirements are specifically designed to help protect Maryland waterways by limiting harmful pollutions.
In making the announcement, Attorney General Gansler thanked Michelle Barnes, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Unit (ECU), David Williams, ECU Chief Investigator and inspectors from the Maryland Department of the Environment for their hard work.