The Maryland Department of the Environment finished its inspection of a chicken farm in Berlin and issued an administrative complaint and penalty against it. The department also handed the farm a $4,000 fine for violating state water pollution laws "for placing sludge deliveries in a pile near a drainage ditch on the farm," according to an MDE press release.
The department began investigating the Hudson family farm after reports from the Assateague Coastkeeper and the Waterkeeper Alliance about waste piles on the property. Those organizations have sued the farm, alleging the farm violated the Clean Water Act. MDE officials determined the pile of waste was sewage sludge, not chicken litter.
Investigators found elevated levels of bacteria in water samples taken from the farm, but the bacteria levels were higher further downstream of the sludge than next to and immediately downstream of it, according to the MDE press release. Scientists could not conclusively determine the source of the bacteria, and said it could have come from wildlife or farming.