The Washington Department of Ecology has fined Seattle Iron and Metals Corp. $64,000 for discharging stormwater with excessive levels of several pollutants into the Duwamish River in Seattle.
The recycling business at 601 South Myrtle St. recovers metal from cars and other machinery. Under an Ecology water quality permit, the company operates a treatment system to remove pollutants from stormwater that drains from 6.5 acres of the property before discharging treated water into the river.
The company’s monitoring records showed 27 violations of pollutant limits in water treated by its system from February 2015 through December 2016. On parts of June 20 and 21, 2016, stormwater was allowed to bypass the treatment system, which resulted in 4 additional violations. Seattle Iron and Metals also failed to submit monitoring reports for the fourth quarter in 2015.
The monitoring showed excessive concentrations of zinc, copper, lead, petroleum compounds, ammonia, and fine particles above the limits set in the permit. The pollutants are byproducts of converting old cars and appliances to usable metals. They can be toxic to fish and other aquatic and marine life.
“We’re very concerned that these violations continue to happen,” said Heather Bartlett, who manages Ecology’s Water Quality Program. “It’s critical for Seattle Iron and Metals to meet its permit requirements in order to protect the Duwamish.”
The company paid Ecology $18,000 for a penalty issued in 2014 for similar violations at the same facility.
“Seattle Iron and Metals takes its environmental responsibilities seriously,” said Alan Sidell, the company’s president. “We remain committed to working with the Department of Ecology to address the complex stormwater quality issues that exist at our metal recycling facility. We are currently in the design phase for improvements to our stormwater treatment system to address these compliance issues.”
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 5-mile site. Ecology’s water quality compliance efforts support that cleanup.
Ecology water quality penalties go to the state’s Coastal Protection Fund which issues grants to public agencies and tribes for water quality restoration projects. The penalty may be appealed to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.