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Judge fines Scappoose business for oil discharge

EPA, DEQ civil action expected in follow up to water pollution case


by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - The Environmental Protection Agency and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are currently in the process of filing civil action suits against Automobilia Quick Lube and Car Wash for allowing a mixture of motor oil and water to flow into Jackson Creek. A Scappoose business owner and a plumber were convicted of water pollution charges after allowing motor oil and water to be pumped into Jackson Creek, which flows into the Columbia River, in October 2012.

While the fines for the crimes were low, environmental agencies are in the process of filing separate suits for cleanup costs.

On Oct. 19, 2012, investigators found the Scappoose Automobilia Quick Lube and Car Wash building’s basement had flooded and a mixture of motor oil and water was pumped from the basement down a storm drain into Jackson Creek, and, Columbia County District Attorney Stephen Atchison said at the time, “theoretically into the Columbia River.”

Patrick Slevin, of the plumbing company Plumb Crazy, was convicted Thursday, Jan. 23, for misdemeanor second-degree water pollution. Slevin’s indictment indicates he violated the law with criminal negligence by “causing waste to be placed in a location where [it was] likely to be carried into the waters of the state.”

Fines for Slevin’s conviction amounted to only $100, according to a judgement from Columbia Circuit Court Judge Ted Grove.

Richard Day, who owns Automobilia Quick Lube and Car Wash, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of failing to report an oil spill, Atchison said, adding that Day negotiated the plea a few weeks prior to Slevin’s trial.

Atchison said Day was also charged a small fine for his misdemeanor.

“He was given a minimal fine and placed on probation and told not to allow any more spills,” he said.

Day and Slevin were issued minimal fines because the Environmental Protection Agency and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are currently in the process of filing civil action suits for cleanup costs, Atchison said.

“The judge felt that would cover the costs,” he said.

Atchison said he had no further information about the EPA and DEQ suits as they were still being processed.

“These two men were convicted on similar charges,” Atchison said. “Day was responsible for reporting the spill, which he didn’t do. It’s still unclear whether Slevin was responsible for reporting the spill.”