Treatment improvements under way at facility along Duwamish Waterway
SEATTLE – The Washington Department of Ecology has fined Seattle Iron and Metals Corp. $18,000 for allowing stormwater with excessive levels of PCBs and other pollutants to discharge to the Duwamish Waterway in Seattle.
The recycling business recovers metal from cars and other machinery at 601 South Myrtle Street, in Seattle. The company operates a treatment system to remove pollutants from stormwater that drains from 6.5 acres of the property, under standards set in an Ecology water quality permit.
Ecology’s penalty covers 22 violations, from October 2013 through August 2014, based on the company’s monthly sampling of treated stormwater released into the river.
The samples contained concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), zinc, copper, lead, petroleum compounds, and fine particles above the limits set in the permit. The pollutants are byproducts of converting old cars and appliances to usable metals.
“We expect Seattle Iron and Metals to complete a series of upgrades it has begun to improve its treatment system,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, regional supervisor for Ecology’s Water Quality Program. “Reducing the levels of pollutants, particularly PCBs, that this facility has been discharging directly into the waterway will support the broader efforts under way to restore the Duwamish.”
PCBs are toxic compounds that accumulate in sediments and fish tissue. Copper, zinc and petroleum compounds in water and sediment can be toxic to fish and other aquatic and marine life. Fine particles indicate the levels of other pollutants in the discharge.
The Lower Duwamish Waterway is listed as a federal Superfund site due to sediment contamination from PCBs and other compounds. Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency co-manage the cleanup of the 5-mile site. Ecology’s industrial water compliance efforts support that cleanup.
Seattle Iron and Metals may appeal the penalty to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.