FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 13, 2016

MEDIA CONTACT:
Chris Wilke, Puget Soundkeeper
(206) 297-7002; chris@pugetsoundkeeper.org

Settlement agreement will require improved spill response at Harbor Island facility

SEATTLE, WA—Puget Soundkeeper Alliance (Soundkeeper) has reached an agreement under the citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act that will help protect against polluted stormwater and oil spills to the Duwamish River and Elliott Bay.

In a settlement agreement filed today, BP West Coast Products LLC (BP) agreed to comply with its industrial stormwater discharge permit and make improvements to the spill response strategy for its high-volume bulk fuel storage facility on Harbor Island, which distributes 10,000 barrels a day of unleaded gasoline and stores up to 305,000 barrels of gasoline on site.

The settlement agreement comes six months after Soundkeeper sent a notice of intent to sue letter in January 2016. BP responded directly — hiring a consultant to assess the site and recommend necessary improvements, inviting Soundkeeper to visit the site, and quickly agreeing to important site updates including the installation of stormwater treatment technologies to filter pollutants.

“BP took Soundkeeper’s notice letter very seriously and responded proactively,” said Soundkeeper Staff Attorney Katelyn Kinn. “Ideally companies would comply with clean water laws without a nudge from residents. In this case, Soundkeeper was pleased to see BP take prompt action to avoid the need for litigation.

“A fuel spill in Elliott Bay or the Duwamish River would be devastating to the environment and to the communities living in the area,” said Chris Wilke, Puget Soundkeeper Executive Director. “These facilities must ensure that they can adequately contain and respond to a significant spill. This settlement marks a solid commitment to protecting Elliott Bay from such an event.”

Harbor Island is situated at the mouth of the Duwamish River in Elliott Bay. Although not a subject of Soundkeeper’s action, the island is a Superfund site, with legacy groundwater and soil contamination dating from the early 1900s. BP is working with the Department of Ecology on ongoing cleanup activities.

Puget Soundkeeper does not receive any money from its settlements beyond direct legal expenses. As part of the settlement, $88,000 will go to the Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund for environmental benefit projects in the affected watershed.

Puget Soundkeeper was represented in the lawsuit by Richard Smith and Claire Tonry, Smith & Lowney, PLLC, and Soundkeeper Staff Attorney Katelyn Kinn.

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Puget Soundkeeper is a community advocacy group whose mission is to protect and preserve the waters of Puget Sound. Established in 1984, Soundkeeper is a founding member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance.