Department of Ecology News Release - October 14, 2015
SEATTLE – Waste Management National Services faces a $14,000 penalty from the Washington Department of Ecology for allowing contaminated soil to spill to the ground from large shipping sacks at a facility along the Duwamish Waterway.
The penalty also cites the company for attempting to handle the shipment without proper planning or preparation. Soil in stormwater is a pollutant. The particles can harm habitat and injure the delicate breathing tissues in fish gills.
The soil – which came by barge from military cleanup sites in Alaska – contained petroleum contamination and was en route to a Waste Management solid waste disposal facility. Soil in some of the sacks also contained PCBs, a chemical that is a main focus of the Lower Duwamish Waterway sediment cleanup, jointly managed by Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The location right along the water adds challenges to controlling stormwater pollution at this facility,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, regional manager for Ecology’s Water Quality Program. “In addition, a major element of the Lower Duwamish cleanup – for us and our state, local and federal partners – is controlling sources of pollutants that can enter stormwater that drains to the river and could re-contaminate sediments.”
Ecology inspectors reported seeing rips in many of the sacks, with their contents spilled onto the pavement at a barge terminal leased by the company at 7400 Eighth Avenue South in Seattle. Many of the sacks had been placed outside a stormwater containment area on the site.
Ecology first observed problems at the site in November 2014, and soon after issued a warning letter. Inspectors reminded the company during later site visits that it would need an updated, adequate plan before attempting to handle future soil sack shipments.
Inspectors reported seeing that Waste Management was not prepared to properly store, handle or respond to spills from the sacks. The facility lacked measures or procedures to contain the spilled soil and prevent it from combining with stormwater that runs off from the facility.
Another shipment of over 1,200 three-cubic-yard soil sacks arrived in August 2015. Ecology inspectors saw torn sacks and spilled soil on the property outside the stormwater containment. Two rain storms occurred that month while torn sacks and spilled soil were present.
Inspectors also saw that the facility lacked the proper equipment to remove the spilled soil. And, the company had yet to produce an adequate plan to prevent or manage stormwater runoff from the shipment. The company has since submitted an updated plan to Ecology.
Ecology issued an immediate action order on Sept. 3, 2015, that included directives to:
“Waste Management takes these allegations very seriously,” said Robin Freedman, company spokesperson. “We are working with the Department of Ecology to ensure that our facility, not only complies with, but also exceeds all the environmental requirements. We are committed to making this facility an important asset for the cleanup of the Lower Duwamish Waterway.”
Ecology penalties may be appealed within 30 days of receipt.
Larry Altose, communications, 425-649-7009, @EcySeattle
Kevin Fitzpatrick, water quality, 425-649-7033
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