State fines Community Transit and its contractor $10K each for water quality permit violations

McCollum Park is located on the site of the former Emander landfill, a former toxic cleanup site. (Photo courtesy State Department of Ecology)

The Washington Department of Ecology is issuing penalties of $10,000 each to Community Transit and its contractor CA Carey for stormwater permit violations identified in October 2022 during construction work at a park and ride in unincorporated Snohomish County.

Community Transit and CA Carey have been constructing new facilities at the park and ride at McCollum Park as part of the Swift Bus Rapid Transit service expansion. McCollum Park is located on the site of the former Emander landfill, a former toxic cleanup site where a cap and liner had been placed over contaminated soil.

Both organizations were aware the landfill was in the project area. However, Community Transit incorrectly stated on its construction stormwater permit application that it was unaware of any contaminated soil or groundwater at the work site, which would have required an assessment for additional stormwater monitoring, treatment and reporting. CA Carey provided the same incorrect information in its application to transfer permit coverage.

As part of the project design, Community Transit and CA Carey’s work included digging into the landfill’s cap and cutting through the liner to excavate below it. This was another point at which Community Transit and its contractor were required to report contamination to Ecology, but failed to do so. Because no monitoring for site-specific pollutants was in place, it is unclear if the excavation resulted in polluted stormwater runoff from the site. Community Transit has since implemented additional monitoring and other actions.

“It’s vital for businesses and agencies to fill out their construction stormwater permit applications accurately and to report work in contaminated areas,” said Rachel McCrea, the water quality section manager for Ecology’s Northwest Region Office. “Ecology relies on this information to determine the best ways to manage stormwater to protect the environment and public health.”

“Community Transit is strongly committed to protecting and enhancing the environmental health and sustainability of the communities we serve,” said Community Transit CEO Ric Ilgenfritz. “We responded rapidly when these issues were identified last year, and the project is now more than 80% complete. We appreciate the Department of Ecology’s work with us to identify and address these issues.”

The penalty may be paid or appealed to the Pollution Control Hearings Board within 30 days.

Water quality penalty payments are placed into the state’s Coastal Protection Fund, which provides grants to public agencies and tribes for water quality restoration projects.

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