A Seattle-based hazardous-waste handling company has been fined $14,000 by the state Department of Ecology for mishandling the cleanup of an oil spill last winter on the Tacoma Tideflats.
On Dec. 15, 2009, the company, Emerald Services, reported a spill from a railroad car loaded with liquid oil and used oil filters for transport to a recycling center.
According to the Ecology Department, Emerald characterized the spill as minor and assured investigators it would be cleaned up quickly.
However, the company halted the cleanup overnight, allowing the oil to spread farther, affect a larger area of its Lincoln Avenue yard and make its way into a City of Tacoma utility vault.
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The state says Emerald’s cleanup efforts were inadequate and the company needs to improve its spill response readiness.
Emerald issued a statement Monday, stating it had completed the cleanup and is continuing to work with the Ecology Department to conclude the matter.
“We are confident that the cleanup has eliminated any possible threat to human health or wildlife,” the statement said.
Emerald paid more than $140,000 in fines and mitigation costs to the Ecology Department and the federal Environmental Protection Agency in 2006 for releasing nearly 1,700 pounds of toluene into a Tacoma storm drain.
Emerald failed to report the chemical release until after the toluene ignited two weeks later, setting off multiple explosions.