- The Washington Times - Friday, April 2, 2021

The owner of a paper mill in Western Maryland has agreed to clean up toxic pollution that has been leaking from its facility into the Potomac River and pay a $650,000 penalty.

Verso Corp. signed a consent decree this week to resolve two federal lawsuits filed over the hazardous pollution that has been seeping from its now-defunct mill into the river for at least two years.

The pollutants include “black liquor,” a byproduct of the paper pulping process, as well as coal ash waste contaminants.

“The tar-like gunk is so acidic it could burn people who touch it,” the Potomac Riverkeeper Network said Thursday. “And the wastes contain metals such as arsenic, mercury, and lead, which are highly toxic to aquatic life.”

The river advocacy group filed one of the lawsuits last year after a fisherman alerted members in April 2019 that “black waste” was leaking into the river.

The mill owners reportedly shut down the facility in the town of Luke one month after the fisherman notified the group. They said the closure was prompted by a decline in the demand for paper and high costs.

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