Washington Fines Company for Dumping Concrete over River Bank

July 31, 2007

The Department of Ecology is fining a company in Lewis County, Wash., $23,470 for water quality violations, including dumping concrete over the bank of the Cowlitz River.

Andrew Noel Construction operates a sand and gravel mine and concrete batching plant next to the Cowlitz River, between Randle and Morton in Lewis County. Ecology visited the site in April and November 2006 to discuss onsite issues that needed correction. A formal inspection occurred in April 2007.

According to the inspector's report, the construction company improperly managed the water used to clean out concrete trucks, allowing the untreated waste to overflow on the ground. The inspector also found evidence that the company drove its concrete trucks to a high embankment and dumped concrete over the bank.

Concrete is alkaline by nature. When dumped into a body of water, it can create caustic conditions that are harmful to fish and aquatic life.

"One of Ecology's main duties is to protect Washington's ground water and surface water from polluting industries. Noel Construction continued to violate its permit even after problems had been identified. This disregard threatens some of the state's most valuable resources," explained Ecology's water quality manager for the Southwest Region, Steve Eberl.

The company's sand and gravel permit requires it to build settling ponds that can adequately hold and treat any process water, such as that used to clean out concrete trucks. The company's permit does not authorize any water discharge - even after treatment - to the river.

Other permit violations the inspector found included a lack of required water quality monitoring and very few best management practices in place to prevent stormwater pollution.

Andrew Noel Construction has 30 days to file an application for relief with Ecology, appeal to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board or pay the fine.

Source: Washington State Department of Ecology

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