Man fined $28,000 for oil spill in Duwamish River

Feb 3, 2023, 11:37 AM | Updated: Feb 14, 2023, 11:37 am
Duwamish River oil spill...
Much of the Duwamish River in Seattle has been an industrial area for more than a century. (Feliks Banel/KIRO Radio)
(Feliks Banel/KIRO Radio)

The Washington state Department of Ecology has fined a property owner in Tukwila $28,000 dollars over an oil spill in the Duwamish River.

In a statement, the DOE says the land was leased out by John Roach to several companies who improperly used it for vehicle maintenance in 2021.

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The property has a documented history of spills and other violations.

In February 2021, DOE received a report of a fuel odor near the Duwamish waterway. Spill response personnel found sheen in the river and tracked it to Roach’s property.

A sheen of oil from a spill estimated to be more than 20 gallons spread some 5 miles down the river, all the way to the West Seattle Bridge. Roach hired a contractor to clean up the spill, but there was still some oil flowing nearly two weeks later.

DOE inspectors determined truck drivers were disposing of lubricating oil and other materials on the property. The oil was either dumped directly into one or more of the on-site catch basins or was spilled to the ground and migrated to the property’s stormwater collection system before discharging to the Duwamish River through an outfall.

Roach is being penalized for spilling oil into the water and not properly reporting it.

While there have been no reported impacts to wildlife, oil, and refined oil products are toxic. Even small amounts of oil can severely injure or impair mammals, fish, birds, and other animals. Oil can also adversely affect the habitats that wildlife depends on for survival.

Ecology has maintained a decades-long initiative, partnering with the community, agencies, non-profit organizations, and multiple tribal governments to clean up the river and land around the waterway.

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Man fined $28,000 for oil spill in Duwamish River