News: Clean Water Act Enforcement

Last Unpermitted Grain Terminal in Washington Required to Obtain Clean Water Act Permit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Last Unpermitted Grain Terminal in Washington Required to Obtain Clean Water Act Permit, Pay $715,000 to Projects Benefiting Water Quality

Longview, WA (June 21, 2022)—Today, Columbia Riverkeeper and EGT, LLC reached an agreement settling Columbia Riverkeeper’s Clean Water Act lawsuit against the 137-acre grain terminal. For the last ten years, EGT operated without a water pollution permit, as required under the Clean Water Act. Under the settlement, EGT must obtain a water pollution permit, which will require that the facility monitor, report to state regulators, and reduce industrial stormwater pollution that impacts the Columbia River. The settlement also requires that EGT pay a penalty for violating the law.

“Communities rely on the Columbia for clean water and strong salmon runs. Every company operating along this shared waterway must do its part to keep the river clean,” stated Simone Anter, staff attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper.” 

EGT is one of six grain terminals in Washington and was the only grain terminal operating without a water pollution permit, in violation of the Clean Water Act. Operating without such a permit meant that no monitoring or report of pollution was occurring. Grain terminals not only release dust into the river, the facilities are also sources of toxic zinc and copper pollution. These pollutants pose a significant threat to sensitive salmon habitat. 

As part of the settlement, EGT must develop a grain spill prevention plan in order to identify methods to prevent grain and grain dust spill in the facility and to prevent grain and grain dust from reaching the Columbia. EGT will also be required to make a payment in lieu of a penalty of $715,000 to Pacific Northwest-based foundation Seeding Justice for projects benefiting water quality in the Columbia River Basin. 

The Columbia River Basin, an area the size of France, accumulates pollution from industry, wastewater treatment plants, and runoff from agricultural lands, logging, industrial sites, and city streets. As a result, the Columbia River and many tributaries are severely degraded by pollution. Toxic pollution threatens the health of people that eat local fish and jeopardizes the public’s right to eat fish caught locally. Rising water temperatures also threaten the health of salmon and other aquatic life that rely on cool water for survival. Columbia Riverkeeper’s staff attorney and Marc Zemel from Smith and Lowney PLLC represented Columbia Riverkeeper in the case.

About the Clean Water Act

The objective of the Clean Water Act, enacted in 1972, “is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” The Clean Water Act requires facilities that discharge wastewater into rivers or lakes to have permits limiting pollution. The Clean Water Act also empowers individuals and organizations to enforce those permits and protect the public’s right to clean, safe rivers.

About Columbia Riverkeeper

Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to restore and protect the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Columbia Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization with over 16,000 members who live, work, and recreate throughout the Columbia River Basin. 

Resources

Consent decree, June 21, 202

Stopping Pollution

Columbia Riverkeeper fights for clean water.