Ruling Upholds Washington Fine, Order

A Washington hearing board's unanimous ruling last month upheld every aspect of a 2007 Department of Ecology penalty against Pacific Topsoils Inc. for illegally covering a wetland on Smith Island, near Everett.

The state agency fined the company $88,000 and ordered the firm to remove the 12-acre, 10-foot-high fill and to restore the land to its original condition. Pacific Topsoils appealed the fine and order to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.

Snohomish County also issued an order – affirmed by a county hearing examiner on appeal – to remove the illegal fill.

"Ecology's costs alone in this case are at least $100,000. The staff time consumed also meant that other environmental protection actions have been left to wait," said Gordon White, who manages the agency's shorelands and environmental assistance program.

"Protecting wetlands is central to the state's goal of restoring Puget Sound by 2020 and protecting it. Wetlands keep water clean, provide habitat, and help reduce flooding. Ecology staff met their obligation to the citizens and brought a strong and convincing case."

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