Seattle Firm Fined for Putting Wastewater Down Storm Drain

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has fined King Electrical Manufacturing Co. (King Electrical) $20,000 for discharging industrial wastewater into Seattle storm drains, according to a Dec. 18 press release.

The facility is located at 9131 10th Ave. S. in Seattle’s South Park district. The city's storm drain lines serving the area empty into Hamm Creek.

The company discharged caustic rinse water from a tank used to wash metal parts and water from a spray-painting booth air pollution control device. The parts washing tank drained through a hose to a parking lot, leading to a storm drain. Drain lines from the paint booth were connected directly to the storm drain.

"Ecology discovered a number of serious wastewater and waste management handling problems at King Electrical in the course of several on-site inspections," said Kevin Fitzpatrick, Ecology’s regional water-quality supervisor. "Problems like these have solutions. We are available to offer technical assistance and encourage facilities to cooperate to avoid penalties."

Inspectors from Ecology, the city of Seattle, and King County observed the violations during a series of visits to the site from July to October 2008. Ecology and the local governments cooperate under the Duwamish Urban Waters Initiative, a program aimed at preventing pollution in the Duwamish industrial area.

The 2007 Legislature established the Initiative, which also operates along Tacoma’s Commencement Bay and the Spokane River in Spokane.

Ecology first visited King Electric as part of an Urban Waters Initiative program to visit businesses that are likely pollution sources to storm drains or sanitary sewers, lack environmental permits, or potential generators of hazardous waste. A technical specialist helps each company identify whether it needs permits or can make voluntary improvements to its environmental practices.

Inspectors who made follow-up visits to King Electrical discovered the illegal storm drain connections. The company plugged the paint booth drain with cement only after Ecology proved with dye that it was connected to the storm drain. The hose from the wash tank was moved to a utility sink. Companies can discharge industrial wastewater into the sanitary sewer but typically need authorization from King County to do so legally and may need to provide pre-treatment.

The Urban Waters Initiative supports Ecology’s work as a co-manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the Lower Duwamish Waterway clean-up site, a 5.5-mile stretch of the Duwamish upstream from Harbor Island. The Initiative also aids in Ecology’s priorities of reducing toxic threats and supporting the Puget Sound Initiative, a comprehensive effort by local, tribal, state, and federal governments, business, agricultural and environmental interests, scientists, and the public to restore and protect the Sound.