Two Penalties Levied Against Vancouver, Wash., Subdivision Project

On Oct. 1, the Washington state Department of Ecology issued two penalties totaling $39,000 against the developers and a contractor responsible for construction of the Columbia River Crossing subdivision in Vancouver.

The project is a nine-lot housing subdivision on 2.89 acres located near the 17000 block of Evergreen Highway and unrelated to the proposed Columbia River Crossing bridge project.

David White and Boyd Williams of White Williams Development and Joe Thompson of Thompson Bros. Excavation were fined individually by Ecology for water quality violations. White Williams Development received a $21,000 fine for violating the terms of the construction stormwater general permit; Thompson received a fine of $18,000 for allowing unlawful discharges of stormwater.

Ecology inspectors visited the construction site six times in 2007 and noted repeated construction stormwater violations. For instance, the steep slope of the property and active springs onsite required the contractor and developers to carefully control any erosion. The methods used were insufficient to control sediment and water runoff.

As a result of ineffective stormwater pollution prevention practices, sediment-laden water emptied into a stormwater ditch that drains to the Columbia River.

When sediment enters water, it transports pollutants it picks up along the way. Sediment also covers essential spawning beds, depletes oxygen levels in the water and can harm fish.

After four visits, Ecology issued an administrative order to White Williams and Thompson Bros. in April 2007 requiring corrective action. Two more site inspections took place in May. The inspector continued to document violations of the permit and administrative order.

"Ecology starts from the premise that contractors and developers want to comply with environmental laws and we work hard to provide education and technical assistance to help them do so," said Garin Schrieve, an Ecology water quality manager. "But when people still don't take steps to control their pollution, Ecology has to escalate the consequences."

White Williams Development and Thompson Bros. Excavation have 30 days to pay their fines, appeal their individual penalties to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board or ask Ecology for reconsideration through an application for relief.

For more information, contact Ecology at www.ecy.wa.gov.

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