Friday, June 13, 2014

Port of Port Angeles to Settle Stormwater Lawsuit

By Mark Edward Nero

The three-member Port of Port Angeles Commission voted unanimously on June 10 to use $26,500 to settle a lawsuit alleging the port violated a state stormwater permit issued under the federal Clean Water Act.

The settlement amount consists of $16,500 to cover the legal fees of the lawsuit’s plaintiff, environmental group Waste Action Project, plus $10,000 that will be paid to the Feiro Marine Life Center to help restore Peabody Creek.

King County-based Waste Action Project filed suit in US District Court in September 2013, alleging violations of the Clean Water Act relating to stormwater discharges from the port’s boatyard. The group had claimed that when it rained, the port was exceeding benchmark zinc and copper levels in stormwater that the port discharges into the Boat Haven marina inside Port Angeles Harbor.

The group’s lawsuit quoted discharge monitoring reports that the port files with the state Department of Ecology in stating that the seasonal average for copper concentration from 2011-12 was eight times the allowable average of 50 micrograms per liter and that the seasonal average for zinc concentration over the same timeframe was 267.5 micrograms per liter, three times the allowable seasonal average of 85 micrograms per liter.

Under the terms of the settlement, the port admits no wrongdoing, agrees to comply with the terms of its national pollutant discharge permit going forward and is also required to implement a new discharge system wherein stormwater will circulate through plants and soil in a rain garden, rather than flow into marina waters.