The state Department of Ecology has fined the Port of Olympia $2,000 for violation of the stormwater discharge permit from its cargo yard operations.
A May 13 Ecology inspection of the port’s stormwater management system revealed sloppy record-keeping, release of turbid, oily stormwater runoff from a port construction site near the marine terminal and an outdated pollution prevention plan, according to the report by Ecology inspector Paul Stasch.
The violations come at a time when the port seeks a stormwater discharge permit from Ecology for cleanup and construction at the contaminated East Bay redevelopment site.
“Ecology keeps issuing permits to the port when they aren’t even capable of something as simple as filing quarterly stormwater monitoring reports,” noted Greg Wingard, executive director of the Waste Action Project in Seattle, a watchdog group that monitors stormwater discharges by government agencies and businesses. “If they can’t handle this permit, how can they be trusted to handle a much more complex permit for the East Bay redevelopment site?”
The East Bay stormwater permit, subject of a public hearing in Olympia on Monday, will require extensive record-keeping, sampling and treatment of contaminated stormwater and groundwater, and using a sand filter and carbon-activated treatment system before the water is discharged to the lower East Bay of Budd Inlet.
The port will have qualified consultants on board to monitor the East Bay development work and make sure stormwater is properly managed, Port executive director Ed Galligan said.
Meanwhile, Galligan said the port is taking several steps to remedy flaws identified by Ecology in the port’s management of stormwater from its ongoing operations.
“There’s no excuse for not being in full compliance with the permit,” Galligan said.
He said he’s reassigned in-house responsibilities for stormwater management and hired a consultant to audit and make recommendations on how to improve record-keeping and the port’s pollution prevention plan.
Among the problems identified by the Ecology inspection were:
• Stormwater discharge monitoring reports for the second and third quarter of 2008 were not submitted to Ecology, despite repeated verbal and written reminders from Ecology officials.
• The port failed to take corrective action when copper levels in the stormwater discharge exceeded permit limits.
• Turbid, oily water was entering Budd Inlet on May 13 from a project to replace a waterline as part of the port’s intermodal rail extension through the cargo yard-marine terminal area.
“The turbid water being discharged from the site was not being monitored by the Port in obvious violation of the water quality standard,” Stasch reported.
When Stasch returned to the site May 18, the pollution from the construction site still was entering Budd Inlet, according to the inspection report.
The violations identified by Ecology also mean the port is out of compliance with a settlement agreement it signed in December 2008 with Olympians for Public Accountability, which had charged the port with violating the federal Clean Water Act by discharging untreated stormwater to Budd Inlet.
“The port’s been out of compliance since they signed the settlement in December,” Wingard said.
Galligan said the recent steps to overhaul port stormwater management will bring the port back in compliance with the settlement agreement and the Ecology permit.
He said the port will not appeal the Ecology penalty or any of the inspection findings.
“We will have an ironclad stormwater program going forward,” he vowed.