Dam operator fined $ 501,000 for polluting Puyallup River
The Washington Department of Ecology fined dam operator Electron Hydro, LLC $ 501,000 for dumping plastic sod into the Puyallup River.
Pieces of artificial turf were found up to 21 miles (34 kilometers) downstream, while deposits of crushed tire rubber are believed to have entered Commencement Bay in Tacoma, 41 miles (66 kilometers) downstream, Ecology said in a press release from Tuesday. .
Turf and its crumbled rubber are poisonous when ingested by fish and other aquatic organisms. The Puyallup is home to endangered protected species including rainbow trout, bull trout and chinook, a critical food source for endangered southern killer whales, the Seattle reported. Times.
“The force of the water tore the grass apart, carried it along the river and sent it straight into the food web,” Ecology Director Laura Watson said in the press release. “It’s an environmental tragedy that didn’t have to happen.”
Electron Hydro produces electricity by diverting water from the river near Orting. The spill occurred when the company began construction to replace its diversion dam and intake structure, built in 1903.
Ecology also issued an administrative order to the company to remedy the continuing water quality violations. The fine goes to the state’s Coastal Protection Fund, which provides grants to government agencies and tribes for water quality restoration projects.
Chris Spens, director of regulatory and environmental affairs at Tollhouse Energy Company, which owns and operates the dam, said in an email the company would appeal the fine.