A Tukwila property owner has been served a $28,000 penalty after allowing oil to leak into the Duwamish River, the Washington State Department of Ecology announced this week.
Ecology says that John Roach leased space on his riverfront property to several businesses and individuals, including semi-truck companies, allowing the land to be improperly used for vehicle maintenance.
The property has a documented history of spills and other violations.
In February 2021, Ecology received a report of a fuel odor near the Duwamish waterway. Spill response personnel found sheen in the river and tracked it to Roach’s property. The following day, Ecology and additional response partners found sheen stretching over 5 miles from the West Seattle Bridge, stemming from an outfall on Roach’s property. Roach hired a contractor to clean up the spill, but there was still some oil flowing nearly two weeks later.
Ecology inspectors determined truck drivers were disposing of lubricating oil and other materials on the property. The oil was either dumped directly into one or more of the on-site catch basins or was spilled to the ground and migrated to the property’s stormwater collection system before discharging to the Duwamish River through an outfall. Over 20 gallons of lubricating oil is suspected to have spilled to the river.
Roach is being penalized for spilling oil to water, and not properly reporting it.
While there were no reported impacts to wildlife, oil and refined oil products are acutely toxic. Even small amounts of oil can severely injure or impair mammals, fish, birds, and other animals. Oil can also adversely affect the habitats that wildlife depends on for survival.
The Duwamish River has a long history as an industrial area and is a federal Superfund cleanup site. Ecology has maintained a decades-long initiative, partnering with the community, agencies, non-profit organizations, and Tribes, to clean up the river and land around the waterway.
The penalty may be appealed to the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board within 30 days. Spill penalty proceeds support grants issued by Ecology to public agencies and non-profit organizations for environmental restoration projects.