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Port of Olympia Settles Federal Lawsuit for $1.3M

— January 14, 2020

The Port of Olympia recently agreed to settle a 2017 lawsuit filed by the Waste Action Project of Covington for $1.3 million.

The Port of Olympia has decided to settle a federal lawsuit for $1.3 million. The suit was filed by the Waste Action Project of Covington in 2017 over allegations that the port violated the Clean Water Act “by discharging polluted stormwater into Budd Inlet.” At the time, Greg Wingard, the Executive Director of Waste Action Project said, “We’re not going to stand here and watch it happen. The port can step up and take care of it or we’ll step up and fix it in federal court.”

Urban runoff being discharged to coastal waters
Urban runoff being discharged to coastal waters; image courtesy of
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary via Wikimedia Commons,

Fortunately, the port commission met earlier this week in executive session and voted unanimously to approve the settlement. From there, the settlement proposal was sent to the Waste Action Project for considerations and was “finalized Wednesday after the port and Waste Action Project signed off on the consent decree.” The consent decree determines the amount to be paid and how it will be paid, “as well as the steps the port must follow to meet requirements for stormwater discharge under a national pollutant discharge elimination system permit.”

When commenting on the settlement, Sam Gibboney, the port Executive Director, said, “It’s really in the best interests of the port and citizens to bring this to a conclusion. It’s not an admission of wrongdoing, it’s a settlement of the dispute.” She added that the port has enough money on hand to pay the settlement, and said “the costs of the other requirements will be shared with the port’s tenants…We will be evaluating cost recovery agreements with our tenants.”

According to the settlement, $733,000 of the $1.3 million will go to pay Waste Action Project’s expenses and litigation fees. The remaining $625,000 will go toward The Rose Foundation of Oakland, California, “which will use the money for projects to improve the water quality of Budd Inlet or South Puget Sound.” Additionally, the settlement includes the following corrective steps the Port of Olympia must implement.

  • Must install a 3-inch curb along the bull rail to prevent stormwater discharge off the edge of the marine terminal.
  • No log loading will at Berth 1
  • During the loading of logs with bark, the port must vacuum sweep the marine terminal at lunch, at the end of the day and at the shift change for multi-shift loading. If stormwater sampling shows the port is not meeting permit requirements, the port must invest in a high-efficiency sweeper.

Wingard chimed in on the settlement and said:

Our intent in constructing the settlement in this way was to provide additional motivation to the port to maintain their permit compliance.”


Port of Olympia settles lawsuit with environmental group for $1.3 million

Environmental group says it plans to sue Port of Olympia for Clean Water Act violations

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