PITTSBURGH The owner of a
recycling operation in central Washington state has been fined
$405,000 for allegedly allowing thousands of gallons of oil to
leak into the Columbia River while illegally scrapping a
derelict barge, resulting in a massive cleanup effort.
Bret A. Simpson and Ellensburg,
Wash.-based Principle Metals LLC were fined by the state
Department of Ecology over the incident, which occurred along
the Columbia River near Camas, Wash., between Dec. 3, 2010, and
Jan. 28, 2011 (
amm.com, Sept. 30, 2011).
spanned 295 dayscost taxpayers $22 million in federal
funds and $680,000 in state funds.
Simpson pleaded guilty in July
to charges of unlawfully discharging oil into the river and
failing to report the discharge, both violations of the federal
Clean Water Act (
amm.com, July 16).
"Had Mr. Simpson or his company
sought a permit to dismantle the Davy Crockett in
water, we would have refused. He would have been directed to do
the work in a permitted shipyard to protect our waters.
Instead, he began scrapping the barge without the benefit of
any professional advice. By the time he broke the barge in
half, the damage was done," according to Dale Jensen, the
Department of Ecologys spills program manager.
Simpson couldnt be reached
The state said the incident has
prompted a crackdown on derelict vessels, and new legislation
has been introduced to deal with the problem. An estimated 230
derelict vessels are in the state, of which more than 50 are
located in the lower Columbia and Willamette rivers.