Absorbents were placed to contain oil in the stormwater pond outside Achilles USA in July 2018. (Washington State Department of Ecology)

Absorbents were placed to contain oil in the stormwater pond outside Achilles USA in July 2018. (Washington State Department of Ecology)

Regulators fine Everett manufacturer $327,000 for oil spills

Two oil spills in July 2018 polluted a stormwater pond and tainted wildlife near Narbeck Creek.

EVERETT — State regulators have fined an Everett manufacturer $327,000 for two oil spills that polluted a stormwater pond and tainted local wildlife near Narbeck Creek in south Everett.

The Washington Department of Ecology, which investigated the spills at 1407 80th Street SW, cited Achilles USA, a plastic film manufacturer, for liability, negligence and failing to notify authorities of the incident.

A total of 340 gallons of lubricating oil flowed into a retention pond from the two spills, which took three weeks to clean up, Ecology reported.

Six oiled geese and one snake were captured and cleaned. Several great blue heron, which could not be captured for cleaning, were also covered by oil, Ecology said.

In a company statement, Achilles said the spill was the result of a former maintenance manager who did not follow company policy.

On July 10, 2018, an Achilles’ employee was improperly moving totes containing lubricating oil when one of the containers fell and ruptured, spilling the contents into the facility’s stormwater system, Ecology said.

The employee did not notify authorities of the spill or fully clean out the system as required by the company.

The next day, an employee found oil in the pond, and brought an oiled goose to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) wildlife treatment facility in Lynnwood.

The employee intentionally misled PAWs and Ecology staff about where the bird had been found.

Ecology searched for the cause of the spill, and traced it to Achilles’ property.

State authorities allege that the additional time it took to uncover the source of the spill delayed the response and may have harmed more wildlife.

During the cleanup, a second source of lubricating oil was found that drained into the pond. The oil was flowing from a collection pit inside the facility that had overfilled due to improper maintenance, Ecology reported.

In response to the fine, Achilles said it takes “environmental compliance seriously and apologizes for the incident,” according to a company statement.

“Achilles has implemented corrective actions designed to prevent a reoccurrence of any future spills,” the company said. “We would like to recognize the first responders for their actions in fully recovering the oil spilled to the retention pond, and preventing the release of any oil from the retention pond to Narbeck Creek.”

Achilles has 30 days to appeal the penalty to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.

In addition to the fine, Ecology billed Achilles $7,653 to recover the state’s costs in responding to the spills. The manufacturer is also subject to a separate Natural Resources Damage Assessment of $3,855 based on an evaluation of the spills’ environmental harm.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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