Electron Hydro LLC will pay a reduced penalty and contribute to a water quality and fish habitat improvement project under a settlement agreement with the Washington Department of Ecology.
The settlement is a result of violations that took place when Electron, without approval, used discarded sports turf from an athletic field and placed it in a river channel bypass to act as a liner cushion during construction activities in the summer of 2020. The velocity of the river soon swept the turf away, releasing plastic fragments and crumb rubber miles downstream.
Ecology fined Electron $501,000 after sports turf broke away from an in-stream construction site in eastern Pierce County in late July 2020. Pieces of sports turf were found up to 21 miles downstream. Deposits of ground-up tire rubber — used as padding for the turf — were believed to extend to the river’s mouth and possibly into Commencement Bay in Tacoma, 41 miles downstream.
The turf and its crumb rubber padding material are harmful to fish and other aquatic life. Puyallup River steelhead, bull trout and Chinook salmon, a critical food source for southern resident orcas, are all protected under the Endangered Species Act.
In the settlement, Electron agreed to contribute $400,800 toward an Ecology-approved environmental improvement project that will benefit water quality and fish habitat in the Puyallup River watershed and will pay a $100,200 fine. The selection of the project will require consultation with fish habitat restoration stakeholders and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. Ecology will provide oversight throughout the life of the environmental improvement project.
In addition to the settlement agreement, Electron will continue to comply with an order Ecology issued in June of 2021 that requires the company to take a number of steps to maintain water quality.
Water quality penalty payments to Ecology are placed into the state’s Coastal Protection Fund, which provides grants to public agencies and Tribes for water quality restoration projects.