Carroll farm well, septic system found in violation of state law


The well and overflowing septic system on a Carroll County farm -- where the commercial slaughter of livestock has been banned and a swine quarantine remains in effect -- violate state environmental laws, a county health department official said yesterday.

The well, which serves a slaughterhouse on the 112-acre farm in the community of Marston, is infested with bacteria and has never complied with drinking water requirements, Edwin F. Singer, Carroll's environmental health director, told the county commissioners.

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the farm's owner, Carroll L. Schisler Sr., 60, and his son, Carroll L. Schisler Jr., 34, to stop selling butchered livestock there, or face expensive fines, imprisonment or the seizure of the property.

The butcher shop, which primarily sold goats and sheep to a Muslim clientele, stopped operating in April, the elder Schisler says. In mid-July, both men were arrested after they were indicted on 19 counts, including charges of animal cruelty, feeding garbage to swine and selling contaminated meat on the property. The charges stemmed from two raids by federal and state investigators in the spring.

The septic system on the western Carroll County farm was also modified without a permit, Singer said. Thus far, the Maryland Department of the Environment has not intervened in the matter, he said.

However, Julie Oberg, a spokeswoman for MDE, said yesterday that the agency's environmental crimes division is investigating the conditions on the farm.

She and Singer said that state and federal prosecutors won't permit them to discuss specific details while the Schislers' criminal trial is pending.

The well and septic system issue was raised during a meeting with state agencies just over a month ago, said Roland Walker, the elder Schisler's attorney. As soon as he heard rumblings of a problem, Walker said, Schisler had his wells tested to document the water quality was adequate.

"That's why I've been asking these people to tell us what you want us to do, and we'll do it," Walker said. "But you don't get any answers. You get complaints."

The health department has ordered water tests in Sam's Creek -- both upstream and downstream of the Schisler property. The creek is part of a conservation area along the Frederick County line, Singer said.

The Schisler farm has been under quarantine since April, after officials removed an emaciated pig that tested positive for trichinosis. It later died.

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