A medical waste processing company, Curtis Bay Energy, has pleaded guilty to numerous violations and agreed to pay $1.75 million in fines after being accused by state prosecutors in Maryland of exposing the public to biohazardous material. The charges stem from the company’s south Baltimore incineration plant, which is the largest medical waste incinerator in the nation.
According to court documents, the company repeatedly overloaded its incinerators and failed to sufficiently burn medical waste before sending it to landfills. Photographs provided by witnesses showed significant amounts of unburned medical waste, including surgical gloves, medical supplies, and bedding. Investigators also observed a load of waste leaking fluid during transportation to a landfill in Virginia.
The violations, which began before the COVID-19 pandemic and continued until the company became aware of the investigation in 2020, posed a clear threat to public health, according to Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown. The company’s actions were deemed a crime.
Curtis Bay Energy, under new ownership, fully cooperated with the investigation and expressed its commitment to increasing investment in preventative maintenance and workforce training. As part of the settlement agreement signed on August 18, the company will pay $1 million to the Maryland Clean Water Fund and an additional $750,000 to support environmental cleanup projects in and around the Curtis Bay neighborhood.
In addition to the unburned medical waste, investigators discovered that the company had installed an illegal pump that discharged wastewater onto an adjacent property. Plant employees attempted to conceal the illegal discharge by disconnecting the pump when environmental inspectors arrived.
The former director of operations at the plant has pleaded guilty in the case, while charges against the former manager are still pending. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott highlighted the settlement as an important step in addressing environmental injustice in underserved communities like Curtis Bay.
The fine imposed on Curtis Bay Energy is one of the highest environmental penalties in Maryland’s history and aims to fund pollution mitigation efforts in the affected neighborhood.