Department of Ecology News Release - April 28, 2015

Seattle firm fined for polluting Duwamish tributary
Stormwater carried mud and oil into North Fork of Hamm Creek

SEATTLE – A Seattle cargo firm faces a $14,000 fine for allowing stormwater with excessive levels of oil and silt to discharge to the North Fork of Hamm Creek, which flows to the Duwamish Waterway in Seattle.

Samson Tug and Barge operates a cargo handling facility at 9228 10th Ave. S. in Seattle. Ecology inspectors have repeatedly observed oily and muddy runoff from the 4.8-acre, partially paved yard, including during site visits in January, February and March of this year.

Samples of the facility’s direct stormwater discharge to the creek showed silt content more than a thousand times higher than acceptable levels. The stormwater also contained oil four times above the acceptable level.

The facility is subject to the state’s Industrial Stormwater General Permit.

Other permit violations at the site included:

“By disregarding the basic elements of the stormwater permit, Samson had virtually no measures in place to prevent and control water pollution,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, regional supervisor for Ecology’s Water Quality Program. “That led to these violations, including one of the highest readings ever seen in Washington for muddy runoff from an industrial site.”

Oil products are toxic to fish and other aquatic and marine life. Silt particles in muddy water can damage fish gills and may carry metals that settle in sediments.

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

The Lower Duwamish Waterway is listed as a federal Superfund site due to sediment contamination from PCBs and other compounds. Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency co-manage the cleanup of the site, which covers a 5-mile stretch along the waterway. Ecology’s industrial water compliance efforts support that cleanup.

###

Contacts:

Larry Altose, Ecology communications, 425-649-7009, @EcySeattle

Robert Wright, Ecology water quality program inspector, 425-649-7060