Last Updated on March 16, 2023


A massive explosion and fire occurred at the Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant in Dundalk, Maryland around noon on Wednesday. Fire crews could be seen responding to the blast site and subsequent fire. Last year, the state of Maryland assumed ownership of the Back River Waste Water Treatment plant.

Video of the explosion’s aftermath showed heavy, black smoke pouring out of a blown-out roof. At 12:43 pm, Wednesda, the Baltimore County Fire Department tweeted, “8200 Block of Eastern Ave. Synagro wastewater treatment plant. Crews remain on scene; thermal oil burning from silo at location.”

Baltimore County Fire spokesperson, Elise Armacost, used a careful choice of words when she informed the press at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. “The Maryland Department of the Environment believes that the wastewater was not impacted,” Armacost said. “Thermal oil is a high-temperature oil that Synagro uses in its process and it is not classified as a hazmat,” she added.

The Baltimore County Fire spokesperson also told the press that there were no injuries due to the explosion or fire.

In March 2022, the state of Maryland took control of the plant.

An order from the Maryland Secretary of the Environment addressed to the plant’s previous owners read: “Pursuant to § 3-109(c) and § 3-109(d) of the Natural Resource Article, the Secretary hereby DIRECTS that the Service take charge of the Back River WWTP, including its operations, maintenance, and improvements functions, in order to work with Baltimore City to ensure that Baltimore City meets the following objectives: protecting public and environmental health; abating any further nuisance; providing appropriate levels of qualified staff; conducting appropriate maintenance, improvements, and modifications; operating the Back River WWTP in compliance with all terms of the Back River Discharge Permit; and ceasing all unpermitted discharges from the Back River WWTP.”

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