Md. sues owners of Cheverly dump for numerous environmental and pollution violations

The state of Maryland is suing World Recycling Company, alleging the company is operating an open dump on a three-acre property in Cheverly, Maryland.

By all accounts, the 3-acre plot of land near the Cheverly Metro in Maryland is a dump. The only building on the site, a former recycling center, burned down in a two-alarm fire in 2019, and now the lot is full of trash.

There are mattresses, tires, construction debris, and piles that can be seen easily from Columbia Park Road in Cheverly. A lawsuit filed this month by the state of Maryland says there’s also lots of chemicals and fluids stored there, with nothing stopping them from draining into nearby Beaverdam Creek, a tributary into the Anacostia River.

And none of what’s sitting there, according to the lawsuit, is permitted.

That’s why the state is suing World Recycling Company, the company that owns the Cheverly property, and another in Baltimore, alleging a long list of environmental violations that date back for years.

“They’ve allowed solid waste to accumulate in open dumps in Baltimore City and in Cheverly,” Attorney General Anthony Brown said in an interview with WTOP, “in violation of the conditions that were set forth in a 2018 consent order” designed to correct past violations.

The state of Maryland is suing World Recycling Company, alleging that the company is operating an open dump on the three-acre property. (WTOP/John Doman)

Brown added, “In the case of Cheverly, they’re operating without a permit.”

The lawsuit said cleanup at the site after the 2019 fire largely stalled three years ago, and piles of new trash have accumulated.

“Piles of construction and demolition debris remained throughout the property, including piles of shingles, sandblasting material, and bricks. Trash and debris littered the trees and the banks of the
stream,” the lawsuit stated, citing a 2020 inspection. Pollutants, including 55-gallon oil drums, drums of hydraulic fluid, and cans of diesel fuel, remained without cover and exposed to the elements. The former service pits remained filled with contaminated trash and liquids.”

Inspections in 2021 and 2022 continued to show evidence that the property was being used as an open dump, according to the suit. In May, inspectors noted hundreds of scrap tires and piles of waste. The front entrance gate was unlocked, and there were gaps in the fencing large enough for a truck to pass through, according to the suit.

The lawsuit alleges the Cheverly site is now being used as an illegal refuse transfer station and an open dump.

Brown said World Recycling has been operating that Cheverly facility without a permit since 2019. Nobody answered calls to a number for World Recycling, and a voicemail box wasn’t accepting new messages.

The state is asking a Prince George’s County judge to fine the company $10,000 per violation per day.

“Collecting fines and penalties is just a part of it,” said Brown. “I think perhaps as important or more is to get World Recycling Company into compliance with environmental standards so that we can protect the public health of the surrounding communities in Cheverly and Baltimore City.”

He added, “When you protect the environment, you also protect the health of communities.”

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