EPA focusing on industrial stormwater compliance, targeting a serious threat to Puget Sound water quality

Ash Grove Cement, Merlino Construction, and Waste Management in list of settlements

Information from the EPA

As part of ongoing federal and state efforts to restore Puget Sound, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is announcing enforcement actions against four Seattle-area companies for discharging industrial stormwater in violation of the Clean Water Act.

“By focusing our efforts on industrial stormwater compliance, EPA and the Washington Department of Ecology are tackling one of the top environmental threats to Puget Sound,” said Ed Kowalski, director of EPA’s enforcement program in Seattle. “These focused actions help bring us closer to restoring the health of Puget Sound.”

Stormwater runoff from industrial sites, if not properly controlled and treated, can transport toxic chemicals, heavy metals, excess sediment, and nutrients, directly into Puget Sound and waterways. These pollutants harm the Puget Sound ecosystem and marine life. EPA and Ecology help ensure compliance and enforce clean water rules at permitted and unpermitted industrial stormwater sources to reduce these pollutants in Puget Sound.

EPA enforcement actions against four Seattle-area companies for discharging industrial stormwater to Puget Sound waterways in violation of the Clean Water Act:

Ash Grove Cement Company, a Seattle cement manufacturer, discharged industrial stormwater to the Duwamish East Waterway via Seattle storm drains, without a permit from 1992 to 2010. Pollutants in the company’s stormwater included toxic metals copper and zinc. To settle these violations, the company obtained an individual stormwater permit and agreed to pay a penalty of $600,000: Complaint and Settlement

Waste Management of Washington Inc., a Seattle truck-to-rail transfer facility, discharged industrial stormwater via storm sewers to the Duwamish River in violation of the Washington industrial stormwater general permit on multiple days in 2009 to 2011. The company discharged truck wash water to a nearby storm drain and failed to monitor pollutants in its stormwater discharges, including petroleum and the toxic metal zinc. EPA and Ecology inspectors jointly investigated this facility for compliance with the industrial stormwater permit. To settle these violations, the company agreed to pay a penalty of $33,750: Settlement

Gary Merlino Construction Company, a Seattle construction storage yard and maintenance facility, discharged industrial stormwater to the Duwamish River in violation of the Washington industrial stormwater general permit from 2010 to 2012. The company failed to revise its pollution prevention plan and update its best management practices to reduce high zinc and turbidity levels in its stormwater, and failed to cover two facility dumpsters. To settle these violations, the company agreed to pay a penalty of $36,000: Settlement

Special Interest Auto Works Inc., of Kent, an auto wrecking and recycling facility (pictured below), discharged industrial stormwater to the Green River, without a permit from 2008 to 2012. Pollutants in the facility’s stormwater included high levels of petroleum and toxic metals zinc, copper, and lead. When the company declined to settle the case, EPA issued a unilateral complaint seeking a penalty up to $177,500: Complaint

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