Washington State Department of Ecology - March 18, 2013

13-078

Seattle firm fined for polluting Duwamish Waterway

BELLEVUE – A Seattle industrial firm faces a $35,000 fine for failing to provide required treatment and for violating pollution limits for water discharged into the Duwamish Waterway.

The Department of Ecology (Ecology) issued the penalty to ConGlobal Industries (ConGlobal), which leases, repairs and maintains shipping containers just south of Harbor Island on the waterway’s eastern shore. 

The company operates under a state water quality permit that requires monitoring and treatment of stormwater that drains from 23 acres of outdoor industrial areas.  Storm water drains from these areas to the Duwamish Waterway via four stormwater outfalls. 

The permit required ConGlobal to implement stormwater treatment in 2011 in response to high concentrations in 2010 of copper, zinc and turbidity, a measurement of water’s silt content.  Ecology found the company had not completed adequate treatment for three of the four drainage systems.

ConGlobal’s stormwater discharges also repeatedly violated limits for total suspended solids (TSS), a measurement of solid particles in stormwater runoff. The company failed to report at least 16 of these violations from 2010 through 2012. Although ConGlobal implemented stormwater treatment, Ecology found the treatment measures did not adequately treat stormwater.

“Reporting and treatment are crucial tools for controlling and preventing pollution,” said Kelly Susewind, who manages Ecology’s water quality program. “Prompt reporting means Ecology can start technical assistance to the company on solutions right away. At ConGlobal, properly treating the metals would also solve the total solids problem.”

ConGlobal can appeal the penalty to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.

Copper and zinc in water and sediment can be toxic to fish and other aquatic and marine life. Silty particles can damage fish gills and may carry metals that settle in sediments.

Ecology’s penalty is part of the Duwamish Urban Waters Initiative, a program to visit facilities that are potential sources of pollution to storm drains or sanitary sewers, lack environmental permits, or are potential generators of hazardous waste. A technical specialist helps each company identify whether it needs permits or can make voluntary improvements to its environmental practices.

The Urban Waters Initiative is a cooperative program aimed at controlling sources of pollution to the Duwamish Waterway and two other water bodies. The 2007 Legislature established the Initiative, which also operates along Tacoma’s Commencement Bay and the Spokane River in Spokane. 

The Initiative supports Ecology’s work as a co-manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the Lower Duwamish Waterway sediment cleanup site, a 5.5-mile stretch of the Duwamish upstream from Harbor Island. The Initiative also aids in Ecology’s priorities of reducing toxic threats and supporting the Puget Sound Initiative, a comprehensive effort by local, tribal, state and federal governments, business, agricultural and environmental interests, scientists, and the public to restore and protect the Sound. 

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Media Contacts:

Larry Altose, Ecology media relations, 425-649-7009, larry.altose@ecy.wa.gov

Robert Wright, Ecology water quality program inspector, 425-649-7060, robert.wright@evy.wa.gov

For more information:

Lower Duwamish Urban Waters Initiative (www.ecy.wa.gov/urbanwaters/duwamish.html)

Urban Waters Initiative: Source Control (www.ecy.wa.gov/urbanwaters/sourcecontrol.html)

Lower Duwamish Waterway sediment cleanup site (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites_brochure/lower_duwamish/lower_duwamish_hp.html)

Ecology's social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)