Valley Proteins plant suspends operations after inspection

The closure is in response to an inspection report from the Maryland Department of the Environment that listed numerous needed corrections.

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Maryland Department of the Environment found numerous corrections needed

Valley Proteins’ rendering facility in Linkwood, Maryland, has suspended operations in response to an inspection report from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) that listed numerous needed corrections.

According to an MDE press release, the inspection report issued December 21 requires the company “to set forth planned actions to ensure that future operations will comply with discharge limits and permit terms. The proposal is subject to MDE review as the department and the facility work toward an agreement, in the form of a consent order, on moving forward.”

MDE said in September that it intended to take enforcement action against the facility and pursue a significant financial penalty to address past violations.

Last week, Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles informed Valley Proteins that its recent compliance record leaves the agency with no option but to proceed with the filing of a civil complaint. The filing of that complaint is pending.

“The department is committed to protecting and restoring the environment and has the responsibility and authority to ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations,” Grumbles said in a letter. “A primary goal of the department is to attain and maintain a high rate of compliance by providing clear expectations and by ensuring that environmental responsibilities are enforced within the regulated community consistently. When significant violations are observed the department has an obligation to take equitable and timely enforcement action, reasonably necessary, to deter future violations from occurring.

“In recent months, Valley Proteins has been the subject of a number of MDE inspections that found the facility to be out of compliance with environmental regulations and law. Additional pollution events at the facility in the past week led to MDE to issue an inspection report … that includes findings, a list of corrective actions and that states:

“Failure to comply with any of the actions listed above may result in the department taking additional actions, including but not limited to issuing an administrative order, suspension of the permit, and/or administrative and civil penalties.”

In September, in addition to the announcement that it intended to take an enforcement action, MDE released a draft permit that would require significant water quality improvements from the Valley Protein facility. The public comment period on the draft permit, which initially incorporated a 60-day extension and then an additional 30-day extension, is open until January 14, 2022. MDE held a virtual public hearing in October and an in-person public hearing in November. MDE values public input and will carefully consider all comments received in making a final decision on the permit application.

In December 2019, Valley Proteins received a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of the presence of pentobarbital in its animal fat products. The FDA also said its inspection of the plant found violations of the its Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls requirements for animal feed, causing the company’s products to be adulterated.

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