Department of Ecology News Release - October 9, 2014

Fleischmann's Vinegar faces $23,000 fine for vinegar spill

OLYMPIA – Fleischmann’s Vinegar faces a $23,000 penalty from the Department of Ecology for spilling concentrated vinegar at its Sumner plant in June, and for other wastewater discharge permit violations.

Approximately 2,000 gallons of concentrated vinegar spilled onto the ground and into two stormwater ponds when corroded steel hoops failed on a large, wooden storage tank. The equipment continued to leak for weeks after the initial spill.

The company did not report the spill. Ecology learned of the incident from an anonymous source.

The spilled vinegar was about three times stronger than regular household vinegar.

“Fortunately, the vinegar was captured in stormwater ponds so there was no harm to plants and animals,” said Rich Doenges, a manager in the Water Quality Program in Ecology’s Southwest Regional Office. “The greatest risk was to people as this concentrated vinegar can cause skin burns and eye damage, and had the potential to contaminate groundwater.”

Ecology staff responded to the spill and inspected Fleischmann’s on June 16, 19, and July 2, to monitor the cleanup. 

Since then, Fleischmann’s has responded by:

By July 2, Fleischmann’s removed the vinegar and contaminated soil from the ponds. The ponds were filled with soil and graded. The spilled vinegar was pumped into a holding tank where it is being treated and discharged to Sumner’s sewage treatment plant. Contaminated soil will be sent to a landfill that’s permitted for this type of material.

Along with issuing the fine, Ecology ordered Fleischmann’s to inspect all wooden storage tanks, repair all leaks and replace all corroded steel hoops by Sept. 30, 2015.

The company has a wastewater discharge permit that allows treated wastewater to be discharged to Sumner’s sewage treatment plant, and its cooling water to be discharged into the White River.

Cooling water cools equipment and does not contain pollution.

Fleischmann’s Vinegar may appeal the penalty and order within 30 days to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.

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Contact:

Melissa Rohlfs, communications, 360-407-6239, @EcySW