An environmental watchdog group and Seattle Iron and Metals Corp. (SIMC) have filed a consent decree in the U.S. District Court resolving a case pertaining to Washington’s Duwamish River and the surrounding community and pollution problems allegedly traced to the scrap metal company.
The settlement requires SIMC to undertake more than $1 million worth of expenses designed to control aerial pollution, wastewater discharge and stormwater discharge. The case included claims brought under the federal Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by a Seattle-based organization called the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.
An online article on the AP News website says SIMC already has undertaken cleanup measures, and the consent decree requires another $200,000 in expenses plus the payment by SIMC of legal costs incurred by the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.
The settlement includes measures to reduce air pollution into the surrounding community from burning materials and from dust emanating from the company’s auto shredding plant. The environmental group also accused the scrap firm of discharging industrial wastewater and stormwater into the Duwamish River. Data from SIMC’s monitoring reports have indicated numerous violations of Clean Water Act permit limits, including discharge of toxic heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons and PCBs, according to the Puget Soundkeepers Alliance.
In response to its violations and during the course of litigation, SIMC has implemented additional pollution control measures, including:
- upgrades to its main wastewater treatment system;
- completely enclosing the facility’s metal shredder with a structure that uses negative pressure and a dust collection system to make sure dust and debris are contained;
- the paving of a dirt lot;
- installing two modular wetland stormwater treatment systems to treat stormwater runoff
- conducting enhanced monitoring of stormwater discharges and implementing enhanced water treatment methods if effluent limits or benchmarks are exceeded;
- reducing the size of debris piles and installing wind fences, and analyzing pollutant levels in dust to help ensure the new controls work;
- the installation of a heat monitoring and fire suppression system to address onsite fires;
- $200,000 payable to the Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund to fund local restoration and pollution mitigation work in the community;
- conducting annual in-water surveys and underwater debris removal using divers and a large magnet, to remove scrap material that fell into the river; and
- requiring trucks entering and exiting the site to follow specific routes of travel through the Georgetown neighborhood to minimize impacts on residents who live nearby.