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Ecology says county out of compliance at waste transfer station; ordered to get 'industrial stormwater' permit

The San Juan County Public Works Department has violated state law by allowing contaminated water at the Sutton Road waste transfer station to come into contact with groundwater, according to an administrative order hand-delivered to Public Works Director Jon Shannon by the state Department of Ecology.

The county is also in violation for not having an Industrial Stormwater General Permit from Ecology.

Contamination occurs because the tipping floor has no roof to provide cover over the solid waste dumping area, and because of broken pipes in the site's storm drainage system, Ecology reported.

The administrative order — "requiring compliance whenever it determines that a person has violated or is likely to violate any provision" of state environmental law — is a response to Ecology's compliance inspection of the solid waste transfer station on March 10.

The administrative order finds the solid waste transfer station is a "Significant Contributor of Pollutants," and requires Shannon to apply for a Industrial Stormwater General Permit.

"In summary, the order directs the county to address industrial stormwater issues at the facility by applying for coverage under the industrial stormwater general permit, and to comply with that permit's requirements," according to Ecology spokeswoman Katie J. Skipper. "This will lead to measures to prevent the release of contaminated stormwater from areas exposed to rainfall, where solid waste is handled, processed or stored."

Skipper said compliance with the stormwater permit is required while the existing facility remains in use. "Although Ecology has been flexible to this point on solid waste requirements, the county needs to meet those requirements as well, unless an additional variance is approved. The existing solid waste variance expires May 14."

Ecology likely will require a stormwater permit if the transfer station is relocated," Skipper said.

"When the new facility is built or the existing facility is improved, it should be designed and operated so stormwater does not come into contact with solid waste operations."

She added, "San Juan County officials are aware of the stormwater problems and are cooperating to come into compliance with stormwater requirements."

More details to follow as the story develops.

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