Maryland Files Federal Lawsuit over Toxic Sludge from Paper Mill Leaking into Potomac River

Potomac Riverkeeper and Environmental Integrity Project Praise Maryland Attorney General and MDE for Taking Action at Former Luke Paper Mill Site

Washington, D.C. – Maryland’s Attorney General filed a federal lawsuit today against the owners of a former paper mill site near Luke, in Western Maryland, that has been leaking a toxic black waste liquid into the North Branch of the Potomac River.

The action was inspired in part by an investigation and legal action by the Potomac Riverkeeper Network and their attorneys at the Environmental Integrity Project, who filed a notice of intent to sue the Verso Corporation on November 19 over the water pollution from the paper mill waste product, called “black liquor” and violations of federal law regulating solid and hazardous wastes.

“Black liquor is a highly toxic material and the owners of this former mill site absolutely need to clean this up for the health and safety of the Potomac River,” said Brent Walls, the Upper Potomac Riverkeeper. “We praise Attorney General Brian Frosh and MDE for working with us to take federal action to resolve this serious environmental problem.”

Natalia Cabrera, the attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project who is handling the case, said: “We are glad that the State of Maryland is moving forward, in conjunction with our client, the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, to address the serious contamination that is occurring to Maryland waterways as a result of poor environmental pollution control at Verso Corporation’s now-closed Luke Paper Mill. Holding polluters accountable for cleanup, rather than communities, is how environmental laws were intended to operate.”

For a copy of the federal lawsuit, click here.

For a copy of the press release from the Maryland Attorney General’s office, click here.

The Environmental Integrity Project is an 18-year-old, nonprofit organization, based in Washington D.C., dedicated to the enforcement of environmental laws to protect public health.

Press contact: Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project, (443) 510-2574 or