"This massive industrial port has a responsibility to the public to be good stewards of the environment..." -Simone Anter, Columbia Riverkeeper
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Major Columbia River Port to Reduce Pollution, Pay Penalty Under Clean Water Act Settlement with Columbia Riverkeeper
Port of Longview agrees to pay $650,000 in fines and remediate pollution in the Columbia River
Longview, WA (Aug. 15, 2022)—Today, Columbia Riverkeeper (Riverkeeper) and the Port of Longview reached an agreement settling Riverkeeper’s Clean Water Act lawsuit against the major Washington State public port. In the settlement, the Port of Longview agreed to make significant changes to reduce the amount of pollution that flows off the 835-acre port and into the Columbia River. Port facilities include eight marine terminals and waterfront industrial property with direct connections to the Columbia River, main-line rail, and interstate highway. Cargo handling specialties include bulk cargos and breakbulk commodities.
“This massive industrial port has a responsibility to the public to be good stewards of the environment. People rely on the Columbia for clean water, strong salmon runs, and so much more.If public ports aren’t following the rules, how can we expect other industries to do the right thing?” said Simone Anter, staff attorney at Columbia Riverkeeper.
This lawsuit follows a concerning trend with other public ports along the Columbia River, including the Port of Vancouver where Columbia Riverkeeper is suing the Port for breaking the Clean Water Act and discharging high levels of copper pollution into the Columbia River. The Port of Morrow also made headlines for violating state water pollution laws. Earlier this year the Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality fined the Port of Morrow $2.1 million for groundwater pollution impacting local drinking water.
”Washington port facilities have the responsibility to practice good environmental governance. This includes the policies, procedures, risk analysis and methods of compliance to ensure the waters of the Columbia River are not polluted,” said Mark Uhart, an avid angler who lives in Kalama, WA. “Methods of compliance include accurate and timely reporting of non-compliance activities. The Port of Longview failed and must be held accountable. Our communities rely on clean Columbia River water for recreation and commerce. Polluting it serves neither.”
“The Port’s mission is to ‘promote commerce and economic development through strategic public investments for the benefit of our communities.’ There’s nothing strategic about unchecked pollution, especially from public entities,” said Diane Dick, a longtime resident of Longview, WA. “Unchecked pollution is not strategically sound or beneficial, especially from Public entities.”
In June, Riverkeeper settled a case against EGT, LLC, a grain terminal located at the Port of Longview, which required the facility to pay over $700,000 to projects benefiting water quality and obtain a Clean Water Act permit, something it had been operating without for ten years. That case underscores the need for ports to provide better oversight of tenant operations and the pollution that results.
As part of the settlement, the Port of Longview agreed to make numerous improvements to its facility to reduce industrial pollution. For example, the Port agreed to monitor stormwater at new locations at the facility; analyze all stormwater samples for Petroleum Hydrocarbons (Diesel Faction), Fecal Coliform Bacteria, and E. coli; update the Port’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan; and undertake improvements at Berth 5 to reduce commodity spills into the Columbia. The consent decree must undergo a 45-day review period for the U.S. Department of Justice and then be approved by a federal district court judge before it can go into effect.
To make up for past pollution and deter any future violations of the Clean Water Act, the settlement requires the Port of Longview to make a payment in lieu of a penalty of $650,000 to the Rose Foundation, which will award grants for projects benefiting water quality in the Columbia River Basin. The company will also be required to pay additional penalties up to $2,500 if certain violations recur in the future. Like many Clean Water Act settlements, the Port denies Riverkeeper’s allegations.
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 staff attorney Simone Anter and Marc Zemel of Smith & 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.
Columbia Riverkeeper fights for clean water.