Rainier fined $35K by DEQ
The city of Rainier was recently fined $35,191 for violating its stormwater permit at a site on A Street.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued the penalty at the end of May.
It is the largest Oregon DEQ penalty issued to a governmental body or program in 2020 and the third-largest penalty issued by DEQ that month.
Construction activities at the city's rail safety improvement project site on A Street between Fox Creek and East Sixth Street discharged sediment onto the banks of Fox Creek. Sediment placed on the creek bank increases water pollution from turbidity — meaning more suspended particles in the water — which makes the creek murkier.
"Sediment carried in stormwater runoff from construction sites is considered a waste that poses a risk of harm to beneficial uses of waters of the state, including the use of those waters as habitat for aquatic organisms," DEQ compliance and enforcement manager Kieran O'Donnell wrote in a notice sent to the city. "The discharge of sediment can degrade water quality and harm aquatic life by covering up food sources and smothering invertebrate organisms living in Fox Creek," O'Donnell explained.
The city failed to comply with the erosion and sediment control plan that it had submitted to DEQ as part of its permit application.
The penalty included $20,305 for failing to install filtration systems, sediment dams and other protective measures outlined in the ESCP.
The rest of the penalty, $14,886, was issued because the city had not monitored the site in compliance with the plan from August 2019 through January 2020.
In addition to those two Class I violations, DEQ found four Class II violations in the same realm.
Under DEQ's formula for civil penalties, the cost increases if the recipient was fined for similar issues in the past. The penalty for Rainier increased because the city had been fined in 2018 for releasing raw sewage into the Columbia River on multiple occasions. For the discharge, not reporting it, and not complying with wastewater monitoring and reporting aspects of the permit, the city was fined $23,700.
City representatives did not return a request for comment on the penalty.
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