State fines Mukilteo company $70K for wastewater violations

Applied Aero Systems, which plans to appeal, does material coatings and assembly for Boeing and others.

MUKILTEO — A Mukilteo aerospace company plans to appeal $70,500 in fines from the state for alleged wastewater violations.

The state Department of Ecology said Applied Aero Systems released wastewater into the sewer that exceeded state limits for toxic metals and other pollutants. The company does material coatings and assembly for Boeing and other aerospace firms.

Violations include failure to provide adequate treatment and to monitor the discharges, the state agency said. Without proper treatment, industrial pollutants can harm the wastewater plant or pass untreated into Puget Sound.

“Industries play a critical role in helping protect Puget Sound,” Vince McGowan, manager of Ecology’s Water Quality Program, said in a news release. “Applied Aero Systems left us no choice but to fine them for years of failing to follow the most fundamental requirements of their water quality permit.”

The state agency said Applied Aero Systems did not properly monitor wastewater and did not submit 23 monitoring reports. The violations occurred throughout 2019 and through July 2020. The company also missed deadlines in an order to correct previous violations that date from 2016.

In all, the state documented 47 violations. At a rate of $3,000 per violation, the company faced $141,000 in fines. But the state cut that number in half, in response to the company’s recent efforts to comply and consistently submit discharge reports going forward, Ecology spokesman Larry Altose said by email.

Under its water quality permit, the company is required to sample, monitor and remove industrial pollutants as needed from wastewater and to file reports. The permit limits the toxic metals, including cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, silver and zinc, the company’s wastewater can contain. It also limits the amount of cyanide and toxic organics.

Contacted by The Daily Herald, company owner Randy Bickle replied by email:

“The Department of Ecology would not accept our statement as follows. ‘From the company spokesman: We are working with the Department to implement the necessary system and personnel controls to correct any deficiencies that may have existed to ensure full compliance with permit and regulatory requirements. We intend to work through the appropriate process and appeal both the scope and amount of this assessment.’”

Bickle added: “They would not allow the statement regarding our intent to appeal and released without comment from us.”

According to Ecology, the state issues a news release for every penalty of $10,000 or more and typically offers the penalty recipient space for a short quote, subject to approval, for insertion.

Agency spokesman Altose, wrote: “It is the right of any Ecology penalty recipient to appeal and present their case before the Pollution Control Hearings Board, but we do not include announcements of appeals in our news releases because these are not actions that we are taking. We asked AAS if they would agree to including the first part of their statement, without the appeal discussion. With no reply, our remaining option was to decline the statement.”

Water quality penalty payments are placed in the state’s Coastal Protection Fund, which provides grants to public agencies and tribes for water quality restoration projects.

Applied Aero Systems has until June 21 to appeal or pay up.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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