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NW Fishletter #388, Dec. 3, 2018

[10] Columbia River Spill Could Cost Coleman Oil More Than $1 Million

Coleman Oil could face more than $1 million in penalties, clean-up costs and damage assessments due to a 3,840-gallon biodiesel spill from one of its underground pipes, which leaked into the Columbia River over a period of years, the Washington Department of Ecology says.

In a Nov. 28 news release, Ecology said it is fining the Lewiston-based retailer $189,000 for the oil that leaked from a corroded underground pipe at the company's bulk oil plant in Wenatchee. The state agency says Coleman Oil was negligent for failing to monitor levels of fuel in its 20,000-gallon above-ground tank, which would have prevented the ongoing leakage into the surrounding soil, groundwater and river.

Coleman Oil is also responsible for $213,400 in costs to respond to the spill, and an undetermined amount in potential resource damage assessment from tribes, with the combined total expected to exceed $1 million, Ecology said.

An official at Coleman Oil did not respond to a call from NW Fishletter.

"This spill happened over a long period of time and impacted the health of the river system," Dale Jensen, manager of Ecology's spills program, said in the news release. "It could easily have been prevented if the company had been properly monitoring the fuel level in the tank."

The spill was first noticed in March 2017, when a sheen appeared on the river near Wenatchee.

An investigation traced the source to Coleman's tank and its underground pipe, which the company believes has been in place since 1935, the news release said.

The company has cooperated on cleanup, which includes groundwater monitoring, the agency said. If fuel is found in the monitoring wells, it is pumped out so it doesn't reach the river. Officials are still investigating whether river sediments are contaminated.

Coleman Oil can appeal the fine to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board. -K.C. Mehaffey

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NW Fishletter is produced by NewsData LLC.
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Mark Ohrenschall, Editor: K.C. Mehaffey
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