Jan 22, 2020

Washington Apple Processor Eyes Storm Water Treatment Protocols

Crunch Pak, an apple processor in Washington, is upgrading its storm water treatment protocols. 

storm water management

An apple processor in Washington has agreed to pay nearly $200,000, in addition to upgrading its storm water treatment protocols, to settle an environmentalist lawsuit.

Crunch Pak, which packages apple slices in Cashmere, Washington, will pay $150,000 to an environmental foundation. The money will be spent improving water quality in the Columbia River and several of its tributaries, reported Capital Press. The processing company will pay another $45,700 to compensate the Columbia Riverkeeper environmental group for its litigation expenses.

The complaint against Crunch Pak, filed in 2018, alleged the company “benefited economically” from avoiding upgrades to its storm water system, causing pollutants to be discharged into the Wenatchee River, which is in violation of its Clean Water Act permit.

According to the lawsuit, storm water from Crunch Pak’s processing facility repeatedly exceeded federal limits for copper, zinc and turbidity between 2010 and 2018.

Columbia Riverkeeper asked U.S. District Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson to issue an injunction, prohibiting the company from discharging pollutants and requiring it to mitigate the environmental damage. The complaint claimed Crunch Pak should pay civil penalties of $37,500 to $53,500 for each day the company allegedly violated its federal permit, reported Capital Press.

In response, Crunch Pak admitted that it had previously violated conditions of its permit but denied that these violations are ongoing. 

In one instance, Crunch Pak denied failing to monitor storm water discharges, as alleged in the complaint, but acknowledged not implementing “best management practices” and filing untimely reports in the past.

The company also claimed to have implemented an immediate plan to retain all storm water on site for treatment as necessary, hiring an outside engineering firm to develop new best practices for managing storm water, reported Capital Press.

The company rerouted storm water flows into an infiltration pond and installed new treatment systems, which is reflected in its updated storm water pollution prevention plan, according to a consent decree. Crunch Pak has also agreed to send Columbia Riverkeeper copies of its storm water monitoring reports during the three years the decree is in effect.

The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, a nonprofit, will receive $150,000 from Crunch Pak under the settlement, according to Capital Press.

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