EPA settles with Washington Crab Producers, Inc., for “Community- Right-to-Know” violations at Westport, WA Processing Facility

Washington Crab Producers, Inc., owner and operator of a seafood processing facility in Westport, Washington, will pay a $16,551 penalty and provide a high-tech thermal imaging camera to the Westport Fire Department to settle alleged violations of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, known as EPCRA.

EPA documents allege that Washington Crab Producers, Inc., stored anhydrous ammonia and nitrogen gas above EPCRA threshold quantities at their Westport facility during calendar year 2012. During that time, they failed to file the required emergency and hazardous chemical inventory forms on time with the state emergency response commission, the local emergency planning committee, and the local fire department, as required by law.

According to Kelly McFadden, Manager of EPA’s Pesticides and Toxics Enforcement program in Seattle, Washington, diligent reporting at facilities handling large amounts of toxic and hazardous chemicals can save lives by aiding in community planning and emergency responses.

“Accidents can and do happen,” said EPA’s McFadden. “When responders arrive at a facility, they need to know what they’re dealing with to stay safe. We’re trying to prevent a serious industrial accident from becoming a community tragedy.”

According to legal documents filed with the case, Washington Crab Producers, Inc. has since corrected the violations.

To learn more about EPA’s work to keep communities safe under EPCRA, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/epcra/what-epcra

Longview man sentenced to 27 months for illegal sewage dumping

A Longview septic tank pumping business and its owner were sentenced today for multiple felony criminal violations of the Clean Water Act, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  RAY CALDWELL, 60, and his company, ALL-OUT SEWER AND DRAIN SERVICE, INC., were found guilty in December 2013, following a bench trial before U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle.  CALDWELL was sentenced to 27 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for twenty-five counts of violating the Clean Water Act, six counts of mail fraud, and two counts of making false statements.  The company shares in the $250,000 fine and will be on probation for three years.  In May, Judge Settle will determine the amount of restitution owed by CALDWELL and the company.  At the sentencing hearing Judge Settle said, “You saw an opportunity to essentially deprive public entities of money they were entitled to receive…. It’s very important to communicate to the community that if you engage in fraud on local government, you will realize consequences.” 
 
“This defendant illegally dumped more than two million gallons of waste and pollutants into the sewer system,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “The company and its owner stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in public services and then embarked on an extended campaign of deceit to conceal the scheme.  The crimes damaged the honest rate payers who dutifully paid for the services they used.”
According to records filed in the case, the defendants’ scheme to defraud the City of Longview, Cowlitz County, and the Three Rivers Regional Wastewater Authority went on for more than ten years.  ALL-OUT was engaged in the business of pumping, hauling, and disposing of septic tank waste, grease trap waste, and industrial wastewater.  Federal, state and local regulations require that all trucked and hauled wastes of the type handled by ALL OUT be discharged to approved treatment facilities.  It was ALL OUT’s practice to transport the waste to its facility in Longview where it was minimally treated and stored in a 10,000 gallon storage tank.  While some of the tank contents were appropriately trucked to approved treatment facilities, a majority of the commingled waste was routinely dumped down an unauthorized sewer port located on the ALL OUT facility.
Based on video surveillance footage seized by law enforcement authorities, CALDWELL and his business partner, Randy Dingus, undertook the illegal discharges in the early morning hours, under the cover of darkness, to avoid being detected by passersby or unsuspecting employees.  When a records review conducted by the City of Longview in 2010 threatened to expose the scheme, the defendants began submitting false documents underreporting the true volume of trucked and hauled waste.  This deception worked until August 2012 when law enforcement surveillance activities prompted by citizen complaints revealed the early morning dumping.
On August 17, 2012, EPA criminal agents executed a search warrant at the ALL OUT facility and seized video footage from the company’s surveillance system.  The footage depicted twenty-four separate illegal dumping incidents over a six week period in July and August of 2012.  EPA criminal agents returned to the ALL OUT facility in the early morning of December 18, 2012 after receiving reports that the illegal dumping was still occurring.  The agents arrested CALDWELL after observing him using large flexible hoses to dump waste from the storage tank directly into the sewer port.
CALDWELL was convicted of illegally dumping waste on each of the days captured on the video footage as well as the December 18, 2012 dumping event.  CALDWELL was also convicted of using the mail system to further his scheme of defrauding the public utilities. Finally, CALDWELL was convicted for making false statements in a mandated user survey seeking information regarding ALL OUT’s discharges to the sewer system, and for lying to EPA agents when confronted in August 2012.
CALDWELL’s business partner, Randy Dingus, 54, had previously pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act for his participation in the illegal dumping scheme.  He was sentenced in January 2014 to 30 days in prison, two months of home detention, one year of supervised release, 40 hours of community service, and a $15,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Washington State Department of Ecology, Cowlitz County, the City of Longview, and the Three Rivers Regional Wastewater Authority.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jim Oesterle and Lawrence Lincoln.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov

DNR to host safety conference for professional divers April 7-8 in Seattle

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that online registration is now open for the 2014 Professional Dive Safety Conference taking place April 7-8 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Registration is free, but required.

 

The 2014 Professional Dive Safety Conference is designed for divers who earn their living working in underwater professions such as geoduck harvesting, scientific research, salvage removal, and water rescue and recovery. The conference will bring together local, state and national dive experts to present the latest scientific research, technology, and best management practices.

 

“At DNR, safety is an important part of our culture,” said Blain Reeves, DNR Aquatic Resources Assistant Division Manager and conference organizer. “We want to make this conference the best possible experience for all of the participants.”

 

Conference attendees can expect to hear presentations and participate in dialogs with national and regional dive safety experts on the following topics:

  • Diving program at DNR: Overview, history, and sustaining a safe diving culture.
  • Panel discussion with dive safety review experts.
  • Standards governing professional diving.
  • History and regulation of scientific diving.
  • Decompression sickness.
  • Using advances in equipment technology to improve dive safety.
  • EPA task hazard analysis for diving in contaminated waters.
  • Diving risk management course.
  • Developing a dive safety network using technology and social media.

 

Registration will remain open until filled. To view the agenda and to register online go to:  http://bit.ly/dive2014conference.

 

For more information, contact Blain Reeves, 2014dive-conference@dnr.wa.gov, or 360-902-1731.

 

DNR’s Dive Program

The primary responsibility of DNR’s professional dive team is to conduct compliance monitoring of the state’s wild stock geoduck fishery, which is jointly managed by DNR, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Puget Sound Treaty Tribes. These large clams are harvested individually by divers using hand-operated water jets in subtidal areas between minus 18 and minus 70 feet. The dive team also conducts additional in-water and on-water support activities for the agency.

Will the government shutdown affect disaster response in Grays Harbor?

The Bad

 

  • Should a significant disaster event impact the area, much of the government support personnel will NOT be immediately available due to the “shut down.” Estimates of 1.2 million federal employees will be furloughed. Although all are not part of a disaster response to disaster, it is appropriate to believe any disaster response and assistance will be delayed.

 

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) virtually shuts down entirely with the exception of a few personnel.

 

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will only keep minimal support for outbreak investigations, processing laboratory samples and a 24/7 Emergency Operations Center.

 

  • The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board will furlough 37 of 40 members with no ability to respond to an incident. Chemical Spill Investigations will be halted.

 

  • All Active Duty Military members will remain on duty although their paychecks may be delayed. Any service member killed during the shutdown, the families will NOT get death benefits until the “shut down” is resolved.

 

Changes proposed to statewide air plan; comments wanted

 

This SIP update will:

 

  • Replace the old rule language with current language.
  • Include new sections.
  • Remove outdated requirements.
  • Update references to federal requirements.
  • Renumber sections of the rule.

 

You can review the proposed plan and related documents on Ecology’s website.

 

Ecology is seeking public comments on the proposed plan changes from Friday, Aug. 9, through Sept. 20, 2013. You are also invited to comment on the plan during a public hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at Ecology headquarters, 300 Desmond Drive SE, Lacey.

 

Here is how you can submit written comments:

 

  • Send email to AQcomments@ecy.wa.gov.
  • Mail them to Anya Caudill, Washington Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

EPA will continue to recognize biomass as renewable

OLYMPIA – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced its plan to defer, for three years, greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting requirements for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from biomass-fired and other biogenic sources of emissions.

 

This action responds to Washington State, congressional leaders’ and scientists’ concerns that biomass would be treated the same as fossil fuel-based energy sources in EPA GHG regulations that took effect this month. Governor Chris Gregoire and Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark encouraged EPA to take a different approach in a letter to Administrator Lisa Jackson in September 2010.

 

EPA’s decision insures that the carbon-sequestering benefits of trees will be duly recognized, and provides more certainty for companies seeking to create jobs and make investments in biomass technologies.

 

“EPA is to be commended for committing to a science-driven process that can credibly distinguish renewable forest biomass from other sources,” said Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark. “Washington State’s has been well served by the efforts of Governor Gregoire and our federal congressional delegation in advocating for forestry and renewable energy jobs.”

Ocean Shores Developers Ordered to Restore Wetlands

“Landowners who plan to work in wetlands must obtain the proper permits before they begin,” said EPA’s Szerlog. “Coastal wetlands are fragile ecosystems and unpermitted construction can be very damaging to them.”

Wetlands help maintain water quality characteristics like water temperature, which directly affect fish spawning and rearing. Waters from these dune wetlands drain into the Pacific Ocean.

EPA has ordered Burgess and Kilcup to remove all unauthorized fill material from the dune wetlands by April 2011. The Clean Water Act authorizes civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day of violation and administrative penalties of up to $16,000 per day for each violation up to a maximum administrative penalty of $177,500.

For more information about the Clean Water Act Section 404 wetland regulatory authority, visit: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/pdf/reg_authority_pr.pdf

For more information about Wetlands protection work, visit:
http://epa.gov/owow/wetlands
http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/functions.html
http://www.usace.army.mil/

Developer Pleads Guilty to Illegally Filling Wetlands in Southwest Washington

            “Mr. Smith deliberately chose to ignore environmental laws that other developers and contractors in the state abide by,” said Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant.  “Today’s plea agreement is a consequence of his decision to bulldoze dozens of acres of wetlands and a creek.”

 

            SMITH admits in his plea agreement to knowingly engaging in land clearing activities that included excavating wetlands and stream channels and redepositing or discharging the excavated materials into waters of the United States.  The activities occurred on property he owned near Winlock, Washington.  SMITH’s land clearing operations spanned a period of over two years, beginning in August 2005 and concluding in October 2007 when inspectors discovered the illegal activity.  In early 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency issued an order to SMITH requiring him to restore the wetlands.  He did not comply with the order and a separate civil case was filed requiring restoration of the damaged wetlands.  The civil case is being handled separately from the criminal case.

 

 


            According to records in the case, 65 percent of the 190 acres SMITH owned near Winlock were covered in wetlands and small streams that drain into Lacamas Creek.  The creek flows into the Cowlitz River and ultimately empties into the Columbia River.  The wetlands at issue cannot be filled without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Neither SMITH nor anyone associated with the property ever applied for the required permit.  In all, 98 acres of wetlands were cleared and disturbed between 2005 and 2007.  While SMITH had a permit to log part of the property, he had no state or federal permits to disturb the wetlands.

 

            In 2007, SMITH had sought to strike a deal with the Southwest Washington Regional Equestrian Center to build a $70 million facility on the site.  After being fined by the Washington State Department of Ecology for filling the wetlands, the deal fell through.   

 

            The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Washington State Department of Ecology.

 

            The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jim Oesterle who heads the U.S. Attorney’s Office working group on environmental crimes.

 

            For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

Lawsuit Seeks Ban of Common WA Farm Pesticide

Regan says the EPA reevaluates pesticides every 15 years, and is not scheduled to act on chlorpyrifos until 2015.
So, the suit is an attempt to speed up the process.

"Right now, the United States is behind the curve with a number of other nations. Countries all over the world – for example, recently, South Africa – have already completely banned use of chloropyrifos. We believe it’s time for EPA to take action."

Its maker, Dow AgroSciences, says chlorpyrifos has been the subject of more than 500 studies and reports, which, in its words, are "largely reassuring" about its effects on human health and the environment. The company also has a website full of farmers’ comments, including the Washington Hay Growers’ Association, saying the chemical is a necessary part of their pest control activities.

The suit was filed in the Southern District of New York. The Pesticide Action Network website contains background on the controversy surrounding the chemical, at www.panna.org. Dow’s site with rebuttal information is www.chlorpyrifos.com.

Bill Represents Major Action by U.S. Senate to Help Puget Sound

"Yesterday’s passage is an important step in giving Puget Sound the protection it deserves," said Governor Gregoire. "I applaud Senator Cantwell and Senator Murray for their leadership and continued support as this bill moves forward."

“This is a big step forward,” said David Dicks, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “We are on the path to move from the kids’ table to the big table with the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay in terms of the federal government’s commitment to our national treasure – Puget Sound.”

The Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and a handful of other “great water bodies” have enjoyed formal Clean Water Act “program” status for years, ensuring consistent federal attention and funding.

Achieving this federal status was one of the goals that Governor Gregoire and the Washington State Legislature had in mind in 2007 when they created the Puget Sound Partnership and mandated the creation of an Action Agenda to restore Puget Sound by 2020. That plan was finished in December 2008 and has been widely supported.

Recognizing Washington’s leadership, the Puget Sound Recovery Act takes a new approach that would provide the national attention and strong federal involvement, up to $90 million per year, while supporting Washington State’s leadership and existing stakeholder effort.

“Federal support will be tethered to the Action Agenda’s priorities and therefore result in greater coordination and leverage for both State and Federal efforts. This codifies our Action Agenda’s citizen-based effort. I applaud Senators Cantwell and Murray for this achievement” said David Dicks.

Bill Ruckelshaus, chairman of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council and the first head of EPA, said “We in Washington State greatly appreciate the efforts of this committee to fashion legislation that will put the federal government on a course to play a major supportive role in the restoration of Puget Sound. Congressman Dicks and Senators Murray and Cantwell have already helped get a major increase in federal funding, this bill will take the Puget Sound Partnership’s efforts to the next level.”

The bill now moves to the Senate floor.