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DEQ issues big fines to ship repair, natural foods companies

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued two relatively large fines this week to prominent local companies.

On Thursday, Oct. 29, DEQ fined Tualatin natural foods company Pacific Foods of Oregon Inc. $31,200.

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, DEQ fined Portland ship building and repair company Vigor Industrial $182,442.

In both cases, the alleged violations took place over several months or years.

Pacific Foods was fined for discharging food process wastewater and other food waste from its Tualatin processing facility into nearby Hedges Creek Wetlands — on eight separate occasions — without a permit.

In a prepared release, DEQ reported that it has documentation showing Pacific discharged “raw process wastewater and food process ingredients that eventually reached the wetland eight times between July 2012 and August 2015.” The amount discharged varied from about 75 gallons to 2,000 gallons.

Such discharges, DEQ said, had a high acidic level, and can reduce the amount of oxygen available for fish and harm aquatic life.

Vigor was fined for failing to install stormwater treatment measures at its Swan Island facility within two years of receiving its permit. The Portland Bureau of Environmental Services agency had approved Vigor’s plan to install and implement a bio-retention facility for three drainage basins. To date, the company has not done so, according to DEQ.

DEQ also penalized Vigor Industrial for failing to do required stormwater discharge monitoring during 2014-2015. DEQ cited Vigor Industrial, without penalty, for failing to generate required reports in response to exceeding its allowed amounts.

“The stormwater discharges from the facility have consistently exceeded statewide benchmark pollutant concentrations,” DEQ reported in a press release. “DEQ issued this penalty because benchmark exceedances indicate the presence of harmful levels of industrial pollutants that could enter the Willamette River and pose a risk to human health and aquatic life.”

DEQ may reduce the penalty against Vigor once it takes action.

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