Water quality violations at the Cosmo Specialty Fibers (Cosmo) mill in Cosmopolis led to an $18,000 penalty from the Washington Department of Ecology. Pollution above permitted levels can negatively impact human health and the environment.
In January 2022, Cosmo exceeded the wastewater pollution limits set in the company’s water quality permit. The violation occurred due to a combination of heavy rain, system upsets, and a temporary disruption to certain parts of mill operations. As a result of these factors, the mill’s wastewater treatment system discharged water with higher levels of organic pollutants, which can contribute to low oxygen levels in the receiving water.
Wastewater from the Cosmo mill is treated before ultimately being discharged to Grays Harbor. Pollution above the limits from the mill’s wastewater can harm aquatic life and reduce water quality. Grays Harbor is home to many aquatic species including salmon, steelhead, and shellfish.
Ecology has previously issued penalties to Cosmo for similar violations, totaling $6,000 since 2015. Over the last few years, Ecology has continued to work with the mill to improve their waste water treatment system and operational practices.
Cosmo has 30 days to pay the fine, or to appeal the penalty to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.
Water quality penalty payments are placed into the state’s Coastal Protection Fund, which provides grants to public agencies and tribes for water quality restoration projects.