Columbia Riverkeeper Files Second CWA Complaint of the Year Against Washington Metal Fabricator

On Wednesday, Columbia Riverkeeper filed a Clean Water Act (CWA) suit against Thompson Metal Fab, Inc. for its alleged and ongoing failures to comply with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The Western District of Washington complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, the assessment of civil penalties, and the award of the plaintiff’s litigation costs.

The defendant reportedly owns and operates an industrial facility in Vancouver, Washington, on land abutting the Columbia River. From the facility, it allegedly discharges polluted stormwater into the river. Plaintiff Columbia Riverkeeper, a litigant that frequently brings CWA citizen suits, is suing on behalf of itself and its members. The State of Washington non-profit corporation explains that the instant lawsuit is part of its effort to “improve water quality in the Columbia River Basin for purposes including recreation, habitat quality, and subsistence, recreational, and commercial fishing.”

According to the complaint, Thompson Metal has not kept up its monitoring, recordkeeping, reporting, public disclosure, and planning requirements, among others, needed for compliance with its NPDES permits. Riverkeeper asserted that these failures deprive it of information that “supports its ability to serve its members by disseminating information and taking appropriate action.”

In particular, and among the other alleged violations, the plaintiff took issue with the defendant’s reported failure to monitor discharges, develop and implement a stormwater  pollution prevention plan (SWPPP), timely complete adaptive management responses, submit reports, and provide access to its SWPPP when Riverkeeper so requested. To build its case, Riverkeeper pointed to a table depicting the amount of zinc and copper and level of turbidity in sampled stormwater Thompson Metal discharged from 2015 to 2020.

The data showed that on multiple occasions, the defendant exceeded the benchmark values set for each category. According to Riverkeeper, this establishes the defendant’s failure to use statutorily required best practices and implement an adequate SWPPP. The complaint also states that on several occasions the defendant failed to properly take water samples and analyze them. Finally, the defendant has not taken corrective action for its exceedances, in violation of its NPDES permit, the filing claims.

Riverkeeper asserts that Thompson Metal has “benefited economically as a consequence of its violations and its failure to implement improvements at the facility.” In turn, the organization seeks a court order prohibiting the defendant from polluting, and requiring it to remediate environmental damage, among other requests.

Columbia Riverkeeper is represented by Kampmeier & Knutsen PLLC and its own counsel.