Department of Ecology News Release - January 31, 2013


Ecology fines Duwamish Valley firm for oil spill

BELLEVUE – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has fined Independent Metals Co. (Independent Metals) $5,000 for failing to report and properly clean up an oil spill last October at the company’s dock on the Duwamish Waterway in Seattle.

The spill occurred as workers unloaded a piece of machinery from a barge to the dock on Oct. 31, 2012, at the metal-recycling company’s facility at 816 S. Kenyon St. About 10 gallons of diesel oil spilled from the machinery onto the dock. A worker used detergent and a hose to scrub the dock and rinse the oil into the river. The company did not report the oil spill.

“The detergent and rinsing flushed all the spilled oil into the river. This mixes and spreads the oil in the water. Proper spill response methods prevent or minimize the spread of oil,” said Dick Walker with Ecology’s spill response section, who investigated the incident.  “Prompt reporting helps ensure a fast response that uses the right methods. Both are critical. Most, maybe all, of this spill could have been kept out of the river or at least contained at the site.”

State and federal laws require the prompt reporting of all oil spills and ban the use of detergents or other chemicals that dissolve and disperse oil.  Ecology learned of the spill on Nov. 2 when citizens noticed sheen – a thin coating of oil – on the water downriver. In a coordinated effort, city of Seattle spill responders traced the sheen to the Independent Metals facility, and Ecology conducted an on-site investigation.

Independent Metals may appeal the penalty to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.

Oil is toxic to marine life, even in small quantities. A quart of oil can contaminate 100,000 gallons of water. The Duwamish Waterway is the site of several environmental cleanup and restoration projects, including the state-federal Lower Duwamish Superfund cleanup, and is a salmon stream used for tribal fisheries.         


Media Contacts:

Larry Altose, Ecology media relations, 425-649-7009, Dick Walker, Ecology spill response, 425-649-7116,

For more information:

Ecology’s Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response Program (

Earlier news release, July 24, 2012: Duwamish Valley firm fined for stormwater violations

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