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Richard Phillips Marine, Inc. and Clackamas County resolve Clean Water Act violation in Sandy River

Release Date: 01/07/2015
Contact Information: Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454, kader.hanady@epa.gov

Work to repair outfall pipeline for the Hoodland Sewage Treatment Plant resulted in unpermitted earthmoving, filling in river

(Seattle—Jan. 7, 2014) Richard Phillips Marine, Inc., a contractor specializing in marine construction, and Clackamas County Water Environmental Services in Oregon reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act that occurred during repairs to the county’s Hoodland Sewage Treatment Plant, which discharges to the Sandy River.

In 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit authorizing Clackamas County to discharge up to 260 cubic yards of fill material to the Sandy River in a .01 acre area as part of a project to repair and relocate the treatment plant’s sewage outfall pipes, which were damaged in a 2011 flood event. The Hoodland Sewage Treatment Plant serves approximately 4,000 residents and businesses in the community of Welches, Oregon located 45 miles east of Portland.

During the outfall repair, the Army Corps of Engineers and Oregon Department of State Lands received calls reporting substantial work occurring in the middle of the Sandy River. An investigation found that the work to repair the outfall had resulted in the discharge of about 950 cubic yards of fill material, well over what state and federal issued permits had authorized, into a .05 acre area.

The Sandy River provides valuable habitat for fish listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act including Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout. The river is a focus of state, federal and non-profit work to restore habitat for native salmon and steelhead within the Columbia River Basin.

“Permits act as safeguards for sensitive habitats and animal species while allowing projects to move forward,” said Michael Szerlog, Manager of the Aquatic Resources Unit in the EPA Seattle Office. “In this case, permit conditions were not followed and the result was a fish kill in valuable habitat.”

Clackamas County worked with the Army Corps of Engineers and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries to obtain appropriate permitting and Endangered Species Act consultation after the fact. In addition, the county has agreed to complete a mitigation project that will restore important rearing habitat for federally protected juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Sandy River Basin.

As part of the agreement, Richard Phillips Marine, Inc. agreed to a $20,000 fine and Clackamas County agreed to a $10,000 fine.

For more information on Clean Water Act Section 404 and wetlands protection, visit: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/cwa/dredgdis/

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