State Settles Lawsuit With Luke Paper Mill

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles today announced a settlement with the owners of the Luke Paper Mill. Under the terms of the settlement, Verso Luke LLC and its parent company, Verso Corporation will have to continue investigating the source of seepages, remediate the discharge, and pay a civil penalty of $650,000. 

The lawsuit began last year after reports that “black liquor,” a sludge byproduct of paper production, was seeping into the Potomac River. The lawsuit alleged that the mill was in violation of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which is designed to protect humans and the environment from hazardous waste.

From the press release:

“Verso repeatedly discharged toxic pulping liquor into Maryland’s waters,” said Attorney General Frosh. “These repeated discharges degraded water quality and were harmful to fish and wildlife. Today’s settlement requires Verso to stop its discharges of pulping liquor, develop and implement a remediation plan, and pay a significant penalty to the State for its repeated violations.”

“This is a healthy shot in the arm for the Potomac River that has endured toxic leaks and a stiff penalty for the polluting company that failed to protect it,” said Secretary Grumbles. “Our enforcement settlement holds the polluter accountable for the cleanup and begins a new chapter of opportunity for beneficial reuse of the property to help the citizens and communities in the region.”

For more information, view the full press release.