Department of Ecology News Release - November 8, 2023

Ecology, Olympia Brewery owner reach settlement over 2019 spill

Spill responders collect oiled vegetation out of Capitol Lake in 2019.


The Washington Department of Ecology has reached a settlement agreement with Tumwater Development, LLC over penalties and costs from a 2019 spill at the site of the former Olympia Brewery.

In February 2019, Ecology responded to an oil spill from a vandalized transformer on the brewery property. About 587 gallons of oil spilled, most of which flowed into storm drains, into Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls, and into the Deschutes River, which flows into Capitol Lake and Puget Sound. The oil contained toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). When released into water bodies, PCBs can accumulate in the aquatic food web and build up to harmful levels over time, affecting fish, wildlife, and people.

In an effort that took six months, responders removed more than three miles of oil-contaminated lakeshore vegetation and excavated PCB-contaminated soil from Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls. Divers were brought in to remove contaminated sediment from Capitol Lake.

Under the agreement, Tumwater Development, LLC will pay a $14,000 penalty in full and $2.25 million towards reimbursing the state for its expenses in responding to the spill. The company also agreed to pay a $30,430 Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA). The NRDA process is used to evaluate the impacts of oil spills to publicly owned resources, and requires the company to pay for those damages. In addition, Tumwater Development, LLC will pay $750,000 to the Squaxin Island Tribe for a restoration project in the Lower Deschutes River Watershed.

“I am thankful for each party’s work on this agreement.” said Carlos Clements, Ecology’s Spill Program Manager. “Not only do we have a resolution to this long, complex cleanup operation, but we will see environmental improvement through the restoration project with the Squaxin Island Tribe.”

Contact information

Ty Keltner
Twitter: ecySW