Washington Fines Chinook Ventures for Air, Runoff Violations

The Washington Department of Ecology has issued a $150,000 fine to a private port near Longview for operating without necessary permits and failing to protect air quality and prevent polluted runoff from reaching the Columbia River, officials said on March 10.

During two unannounced inspections in 2007, Ecology inspectors documented air and water quality violations at Chinook Ventures.

"Ecology has received numerous complaints about Chinook Ventures, and combined with what we've seen, we're deeply concerned," said Laurie Davies, Ecology's manager for the program that oversees permitting for Chinook Ventures.

"By ignoring state and local permitting requirements, this company is putting people and the environment at risk -- as well as creating an unfair advantage over business competitors who follow the law and permit requirements," Davies said.

The company is located at 4029 Industrial Way, site of the former Reynolds and Longview Aluminum smelters. Chinook Ventures bought the buildings on the property in 2004. Since then, the company has been cleaning up historical contamination and establishing itself as a storage, shipping, and transport facility.

Ecology has permitting authority for Chinook Ventures' water quality and for some air quality requirements.

Chinook Ventures' operations are inconsistent with the water quality permit for the facility, an issue Ecology has raised with the company since it took over the shut down Longview Aluminum smelter's permit. The company has yet to apply for a new permit and submit required stormwater pollution prevention and spill control plans.

During the 2007 inspections, Ecology found Chinook Ventures violating water quality standards by:

• Storing waste materials outside with inadequate pollution prevention controls.

• Spilling product on the ground during loading and unloading operations.

• Tracking materials throughout the site.

• Using poor housekeeping practices on-site and at the pier.

In 2006, Ecology issued a temporary air order allowing the company to crush materials from the old smelter in specific buildings with proper emission control systems. During the 2007 inspections, Ecology observed Chinook Ventures directly violating the air order by operating crushing equipment in different buildings without emission controls and beyond the permit's time limit.

Along with the penalty, Ecology issued an enforcement order to compel the company to resolve the air and water quality violations. The company has 30 days to respond to the penalty.