EPA Proposes to Remove Certain Human Health Standards for Water Quality Regulations in Washington State

October 6, 2019

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required the Department of Ecology to update its water quality standards to be more protective of human health by requiring the State to implement a more protective Fish Consumption Rate. In May of 2019, the EPA rescinded this requirement without consultation from Washington State or Tribal Nations. Toxins found in water end up in fish that are consumed by people and wildlife. In recognition of science that shows that people in Washington State, especially Tribal members, consume more fish than what was previously thought, and toxins in these fish can lead to illness and death if too much is consumed, CHB, along with 22 other organizations, have strongly urged the EPA to re-enact these stronger water quality protections.

See the full comment letter here.

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Releases Preliminary Approval Order for Tacoma LNG

September 9, 2019

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) released their Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Order of Approval for the Tacoma Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Facility. CHB maintains that permitting this facility to operate is irresponsible and short-sighted given the drastic steps we will need to take to avoid the worst consequences of the Climate Crisis. CHB strongly urged PSCAA to deny the LNG construction permit. In the alternative, CHB urged PSCAA to: publish updated scientific information and relevant, appropriate information about the impacts of the project; require Puget Sound Energy mitigate the emissions caused by the project; fully apply the law to the extent of the activities proposed at the site, and; modify the permit to better ensure the protection of public and environmental health.

See the full comment letter here.

EPA Reviews Cleanup Progress in the Commencement Bay Nearshore and Tideflats

August 15, 2019

Every 5 years, the Environmental Protection Agency reviews the cleanup process of the Commencement Bay Nearshore-Tideflats Superfund site. This review covers the Thea Foss, Middle, St. Paul, Sitcum, Blair, and Hylebos Waterways, as well as the Olympic View Restoration Area, the Asarco site (now Point Ruston), the Point Defiance Marina Yacht Basin, and the larger Commencement Bay. While CHB is pleased with the cleanup progress in many of these waterways, we strongly urged the EPA to continue and enhance their monitoring of contaminants, as well as strengthen sediment and water quality standards so that existing pollution does not recontaminate these waterways. CHB also brought to light many industrial development projects and proposals around Commencement Bay, which may harm its cleanup progress and recovery. The EPA will use this review to determine how they will move forward in restoring this area.

See the full comment letter here.

U.S. Oil Refining Co Updates its Water Quality Permit

August 9, 2019

U.S. Oil Refining Co (USOR) is the largest producer of refined petroleum products in Pierce County, and is capable of processing 42,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Because USOR discharges wastewater and stormwater into the Blair Waterway, the Lincoln Avenue Ditch, and the Erdahl Ditch, it is required to obtain a NPDES permit from the Department of Ecology, which is reviewed and updated every five years. CHB’s major concern with this permit is that it does not include WET (whole effluent toxicity) limits, which are required under federal and state law. Additionally, the permit documents show that USOR’s stormwater management system is not meeting state standards for stormwater prevention, control or treatment. CHB requested Ecology provide justification for their preliminary issuance of this permit without the required permit elements. As of October 2019, we are waiting for their response to our comments.

See the full comment letter here.

Manke Lumber Required to Right Their Wrongs in the Hylebos Waterway

July 5, 2019

Manke Lumber Company (Manke) is a lumber storage and processing facility sited at the head of the Hylebos Waterway. In 2017 Manke was sued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating several state and federal water quality regulations, including polluting the Hylebos with oil, heavy metals, and organic materials. Manke is now required by the EPA to update their stormwater treatment system and pay a fine of $320,000, and has volunteered to complete a voluntary Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) in Shelton, Washington. Unfortunately, any water quality benefits that might result from this SEP will not reach Tacoma, where Manke polluted the waters and put their community at risk. CHB requested that the EPA hold Manke fully accountable by performing their SEP in Pierce County and that they be held to more strict water quality standards.

See the full comment letter here.

Ecology Updates the Industrial Stormwater General Permit

June 27, 2019

The Department of Ecology regulates stormwater that comes from the properties for industry and business through their Industrial Stormwater General Permit (ISGP). The ISGP sets standards for how these companies have to prevent, control, and treat the stormwater that comes from their property. CHB, along with Puget Soundkeeper, RE Sources, Columbia Riverkeeper, and Spokane Riverkeeper submitted comments urging Ecology to make these permit standards more protective of water quality by recommending that Ecology: use more quantitative water quality standards; include more industry types not previously covered in this permit; increase water quality sampling frequency, and; implement stronger enforcement for permit violations. After Ecology reviews all public comments and makes changes, the final ISGP will become effective January 1, 2020.

See the full comment letter here.

Schnitzer Steel Updates its Water Quality Permit

June 27, 2019

Schnitzer Steel of Tacoma (SST) is a scrap metal recycling facility located on the Hylebos Waterway. Because SST discharges its wastewater and stormwater into the Hylebos, it is required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from the Department of Ecology, which is reviewed and updated every five years. Because PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) have been found in the sediment surrounding SST’s outfalls, Ecology has required SST to conduct an investigation to determine where these PCBs are coming from. CHB has requested the Permit be modified to require SST to proactively implement on-the-ground PCB control measures as the source of PCBs is identified, rather than wait until the next permit review period. In response to our comments, Ecology added important language regarding the use of the Hylebos Waterway by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, as well as clarifying language about the removal of potentially toxic solids from the facility.

See the full comment letter here.

SeaPort Sound Terminal Proposes New Oil-Transfer Stations

June 20, 2019

SeaPort Sound Terminal (SST, formally Targa) – located on the Hylebos Waterway in Tacoma – stores and moves crude oil and other fossil fuels through the Salish Sea and inland via pipeline and rail. SST is proposing to double the number of oil-transfer stations on their property, and CHB is extremely concerned this project would also allow them to double the amount of crude oil they store and transport on a daily basis. Because of the likelihood that this project will allow more fossil fuels to move through Commencement Bay and cause environmental harm, CHB requested that the City of Tacoma conduct an Environmental Impact Statement, as well as ensure accountability from SST that they will follow their water quality permit. As of October 2019, the City has still not issued their decision on this permit.

See the full comment letter here.

EPA Proposes Weaker Rules for Cleaning up Contaminated Groundwater

June 10, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed weakened standards for the cleanup of groundwater contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and/or perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). These chemicals are used in fire-fighting foam and are commonly found near military bases, such as the local Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). Exposure to these chemicals can lead to cardiac disease, reproductive complications, kidney and testicular cancer, and more. In order to combat these contaminants filtering into our waterways, CHB requested the EPA reinstate the more protective standards and add specific measures for cleanup enforcement.

See the full comment letter here.

NuStar Energy Tacoma Oil Spill Prevention Plan

April 25th, 2019

The Department of Ecology requires all oil-handling facilities to draft and periodically update their oil spill prevention plans. NuStar Energy Tacoma is an oil storage facility at the end of the Thea Foss Waterway, and recently updated their plan. NuStar can approximately 377,000 barrels oil products including: diesel, jet fuel, gasoline, and ethanol. A spill of any of these materials threatens marine life and the health of the bay. CHB made recommendations to improve accessibility and thoroughness of the plan. In response, Ecology has required NuStar to include a record of maintenance and inspection documents in their plan.

See the full comment letter here.

Letter to the EPA Opposing Changes to the Definition of “Waters of the United States”

April 15th, 2019

In March of 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed changing the definition of “Waters of the United States.” The proposed changes to this definition under the Clean Water Act would remove significant protections to wetlands, seasonal springs, and some lakes – all of which are found in the Puyallup River watershed. CHB, along with 154 other organizations, have urged the EPA and the Army Corps to withdraw this dangerous proposal.

See the full comment letter here.

Port of Tacoma Channel Deepening & Widening

February 21st, 2019

The Port of Tacoma requested the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) study the possibility of widening and deepening the Blair Waterway to accommodate the passage of larger container ships. Given the complexity, environmental risks and public concern over this project, CHB requested the USACE prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement. Additionally, CHB requested more thorough studies be completed to determine the full impacts of the proposal on tribal treaty fishing rights, native salmon, forage fish, and marine mammal populations. CHB also called for a much more thorough analysis of contaminated sediments within the area. USACE is currently reviewing all submitted comments.

Read our full comments.

Water Quality Permits for Nine Federal Dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers

February 19th, 2019

Citizens for a Healthy Bay supports the Washington State Department of Ecology’s authority to regulate water temperature around the nine federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Regulating these water temperatures to be consistent with State water quality standards is one of many steps in preventing the warming of river water due to the environmental impacts of climate change. Warmer waters weaken salmon immune systems and widen the range of their predators, increasing their risks of mortality. Although this is not the final answer to recovering our native salmon populations, it is one step in the right direction. Read our comments.

USG Interiors Plans to Clean Up their Puyallup River Property

February 5th, 2019

USG Interiors submitted a cleanup plan to the Department of Ecology to address toxic contamination from their work in the 80s, where they used their Puyallup River property to make insulation using waste materials from the ASARCO copper smelter. This site is contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic and other heavy metals commonly found in ASARCO waste. CHB concluded that Ecology failed to adequately address the severity of this contamination and its potential for leaching into the nearby sediments, the Puyallup River, and its groundwater. In response to our comments, Ecology agreed that a more exhaustive list of contaminants need to be studied at the site, to ensure the cleanup is as thorough as possible.

Read our comment letter.

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