Clean Earth Specialty Waste Solutions, a hazardous waste transportation company, received a $37,000 penalty from Washington’s Department of Ecology for allowing a storage container to leak corrosive waste.
On Aug. 12, 2021, a metal galvanizing company in Seattle contracted with Clean Earth to manage the business’ dangerous waste, transport it to Clean Earth’s Tacoma treatment, storage, and disposal facility, and dispose of it in accordance with state law. Upon discovering the leaking container, Clean Earth moved it to another location across the street.
The leaking container sat unattended overnight, spilling corrosive liquid akin to battery acid in an area accessible by the public, near a known encampment of people without permanent housing, and a short distance from the popular Burke-Gilman Trail. The following day, Clean Earth transported the container to its Tacoma facility through city streets and down Interstate-5, potentially spreading the liquid waste. It wasn’t until the waste reached its final destination at the company’s Tacoma facility that workers there spotted the leak and reported it to Ecology.
“Clean Earth knew the container was leaking when they moved it off the business’ property and left it overnight, and they didn’t take adequate action to stop the leak before transporting it on public roads,” said Katrina Lassiter, who manages Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction program. “This is a clear violation that not only endangered the environment, but potentially anyone who happened to be traveling on those roads that day.”
Other companies depend on Clean Earth to safely manage their hazardous wastes, Lassiter said, so it’s critical for the company’s staff to understand and fully comply with state and federal hazardous waste laws.
“Clean Earth disputes the facts as set forth by the State; however, we will clarify these facts and work cooperatively with the Agency to resolve any discrepancies. We maintain extremely high standards to comply with all applicable regulations in the proper management of industrial waste in protecting public health and the environment,” said Kris Iverson, Clean Earth Regional Operation Director-NW. “Clean Earth will work with the Agency for proper resolution of the enforcement action.”
Clean Earth may appeal Ecology’s penalty to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board within 30 days.