In 2019 a fisherman noticed black seepage from Verso’s paper mill at Luke Maryland into the North Branch of the Potomac River. The seepage turned out to be “black liquor” from the papermaking process coming from several sources along the river bank, including an old storage tank and a coal ash lagoon. A lawsuit was brought by Potomac Riverkeepers Network, the Environmental Integrity Project and the Maryland Department of the Environment.
A consent decree has now been negotiated among the parties and entered by the Court. In the decree, Verso acknowledges responsibility for the leak and will identify the sources and the extent of contamination at the mill, including the area around a million-gallon storage tank. The company must also develop and implement a comprehensive plan to clean up all the contamination. In addition to cleaning up the area around the tank, Verso is also required to pump and treat contaminated groundwater, close the coal ash waste lagoon, and conduct monthly water quality sampling in the river and groundwater for at least three years following all cleanup measures to make sure that pollution from the site is no longer harming the river.
Read more here.