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Two men cited for water quality violations on Columbia River

Penalty fines amount to more than $110,000

Two men have been fined more than $110,000 by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for violations for asbestos, solid waste and water quality violations.

Roger Ison of St. Helens and Clay Jonak of Longview, Wash., were fined $110,677 for accumulating solid waste, asbestos-containing material and releasing petroleum-based fuel into the Columbia River on a submerged piece of property they lease outside of Goble along the Columbia River, according to a press release from DEQ.

Jonak owns 1,200 square feet of waterfront property in the area and leases 120,000 square feet of waterway in the area. Jonak and Ison primarily use the property to store boats and other watercraft equipment, including multiple historic boats Jonak owns, such as the River Queen, a former steam-powered ferry that ran between Bremerton, Wash., and Seattle.

Documents from DEQ indicate at least three vessels on the property — the River Queen, the dredge boat Multnomah, and another ship called the Amazon — contained thermal insulation containing chrysotile or white asbestos, for which Jonak and Ison were issued violations. Additionally, one vessel, the HV Newell, is alleged to have released 20 gallons of diesel fuel into the river when the ship sank in September 2015, and approximately 10,000 cubic yards of waste materials including storage tanks, buckets, inoperable engines and scrap metal were being stored on the vessels in June 2015, which were grounds for two other citations.

Approximately half of the civil penalty fines, $56,677, represents the economic gain the two men received by not properly disposing of asbestos-containing material, according to DEQ. A press release from the department also states that the men have been ordered to correct the violations and have until June 14 to appeal the penalty.

Jonak said Wednesday that he has had complications complying with DEQ citations in the past and he plans to appeal the fines.

“We are disputing what DEQ has accused us of and we are taking advantage of the appeals process and we are entering into a negotiation on this,” Jonak said “That’s the bottom line.”

Jonak said he and Ison did not wish to further comment on the fines or citations until the appeals process moves forward, though he made a plea for the public to not trespass on the property where the ships are being stored.