Department of Ecology News Release - October 30, 2012

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Waste handling business pays $12,000 in settlement for violations

SPOKANE — Emerald Services, Inc. (ESI) on North Sullivan Road in the Spokane Valley will pay the state $12,000 to settle violations for mishandling a type of waste that is designated as a “dangerous waste.”

Inspectors from the Washington Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program found that ESI had delivered and dumped a shipment of waste at the Graham Road Landfill that contained a high level of halogens such as chlorine. The Graham Road Landfill does not have a permit to accept waste designated as hazardous or dangerous.  The landfill is owned and operated by Waste Management, Inc.

When dangerous chemicals are mishandled, the chances become higher that people and the environment will be exposed to them.  Health problems can develop if people are exposed to these substances.

ESI provides waste management services, with a transfer facility in Spokane’s Industrial Park on Sullivan Road. The company manages and transports for disposal different kinds of waste including oil/water separator waste, used oil and more. 

On June 1, 2011, ESI hauled 3.65 tons of oily sludge in a vacuum truck and dumped it at the Graham Road Landfill.  The sludge contained chlorinated materials in concentrations above what can be accepted at the landfill. 

ESI collected samples of the material for laboratory analysis on the same day it was disposed on June 1.  Test results delivered on June 9, 2011, revealed the sludge was a dangerous waste that should have gone to a different type of disposal facility.

Because ESI dumped the material at a landfill that was not permitted to accept it, Ecology prepared to fine the company $18,000. However, ESI entered into an expedited settlement agreement with Ecology to reduce the recommended penalty by one-third to $12,000.  The settlement lowers the penalty and requires ESI to waive its right to appeal.  Ecology is using this expedited settlement process in an effort to save the state, taxpayers, and ESI the expense of costly litigation.

Since this time, ESI has cooperated with Ecology and come into compliance with the regulations.

Lisa Brown, who manages Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program in Eastern Washington, said: “Ecology considers the safe management of toxic chemicals to be a very high priority. Emerald Services recognizes this and has come into compliance with the state’s regulations. Doing so means the public and the environment are protected from exposure to these toxic chemicals.”

Clue Westmoreland, executive vice president for Emerald Services, Inc., said: “Emerald appreciates Ecology’s willingness to enter into the expedited settlement process regarding this violation.  We have addressed this issue with appropriate staff to ensure the problem does not occur again in the future, and look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with Ecology regarding the operation of our business at the highest possible level of compliance.”

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Media Contact: Jani Gilbert, Communications, 509-329-3495; cell, 509-990-9177; e-mail jani.gilbert@ecy.wa.gov.

For more information:

Ecology's Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction website: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/hwtr/index.html

Ecology’s social media: www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html