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Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel faces $12,000 fine

Posted by Geeky Swedes on August 31st, 2009

Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel has been fined $12,000 by the Department of Ecology for clean water violations in the Ship Canal.

The Department of Ecology says violations by Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel include “ongoing spills of aggregate — a sand and gravel mixture — from shore-side bunkers” at their facility at 5231 Shilshole Avenue NW into the Lake Washington Ship Canal. State law outlaws the discharge of foreign material to state waters. Other violations cited by the department include lack of a spill-response plan at the facility and not having records of required twice-yearly stormwater inspections.

The Department of Ecology says the company did not respond to repeated attempts made last year to discuss the water-quality problem. After a “Notice of Violation” was issued this last February, the company had 30 days to respond. “This case escalated into a penalty because Salmon Bay did not respond,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, the Department of Ecology’s regional water quality supervisor. “Most of the violations themselves require fairly straightforward corrections.” Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel has the option to seek an Ecology review of the penalty or file an appeal within 30 days with the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.

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88 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 CK // Aug 31, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    I'm sorry, aren't these the guys who are suing Cascade Bicycle to get an environmental review (ahem filibuster) on the proposed Missing Link extension?

  • 2 kim1234 // Aug 31, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    now if spd traffic would catch the truck drivers….they're crazy on the road. they think they literally own the road.

  • 3 SPG // Aug 31, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    They do own the road and how dare you question them. What, do you think you're entitled to use it too?

  • 4 SPG // Aug 31, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    I can hear Nelson from the Simpsons all the way over here… “Ha Ha!”

  • 5 Ballardwatch // Aug 31, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I think “karma” is the word we can use to describe this

  • 6 Edog // Aug 31, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Portait of Irony – Early today on the missing link thread, I observed they would be smart to hire an attorney who was a SEPA expert above all other considerations. Based on this, I expect they have not done that much.

    Ecology publicly stating that Salmon Bay simply did not respond – OUCH – as as in priceless.

  • 7 Matt // Aug 31, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Oh this is priceless.

  • 8 Edog // Aug 31, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    I wonder if these jerks even have an environmental site manager?

  • 9 gurple // Aug 31, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Swedes, do you have a link for the release that was sent out? My Google-fu fails me, and I think the details would be pretty interesting.

  • 10 boardbrown // Aug 31, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Oh boy! This'll get ugly.

  • 11 ballardmike // Aug 31, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Hey, a gravel spill is better than oil spill any day… and they do pay taxes and employ people here.

  • 12 Landry // Aug 31, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    According to the text of the arcticle, they've had since last February to respond to this. They have failed their employees by ignoring this.

  • 13 rowksta // Aug 31, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Actually, gravel and sand spilling into the water can be harder to contain than oil and it more directly affects sub-surface marine life. Oil floats on water, silty particles become suspended in the water, which is where fish and salmon draw their oxygen from. Fish can draw in the silty water through their gills and essentially suffocate. Salmon runs are closely watched by Ecology…and apparently Salmon Bay Gravel is closely watched, too!

    I hear you, though….cleaning up shorelines from oil spills is REALLY hard!

  • 14 NoraBell // Aug 31, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    There is no excuse or call to whitewash this kind of blatant environmental damage. This is a big boy company, they knew better.

  • 15 fuzzbeans // Aug 31, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    But you don't understand! They'd rather spend their time fighting against bicyclists than keeping their own house in order.

  • 16 MichaelSnyder // Aug 31, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Own it? I'm sure they built it too. It is a concrete road after all. ;)

  • 17 gurple // Aug 31, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Here's a story on this on the PI website:

  • 18 Edog // Aug 31, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    30 Days of silence – Nothing else to say!

  • 19 ZephyrV2 // Aug 31, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    It's a shame that we can't take direct consumer action and boycott this business. I am of course assuming that their customers are business and government entities, not private individuals looking to gravel over their drive way.

  • 20 stopthebuzz // Aug 31, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    To clarify further, they're suing the City of Seattle and are spending your tax dollars.

  • 21 aresident // Aug 31, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    They also seem to have no concern for the amount of gravel the gets spilled and/or tracked on Shilshole Avenue.

  • 22 SweetRose // Aug 31, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    $12,000? Cost of doing business.

  • 23 Ballard_Dad // Aug 31, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    How, if at all, will this impact the missing link case?

  • 24 Freddie // Aug 31, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    No doubt everyone here will stop using gravel in protest.

  • 25 Edog // Aug 31, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    It won't. They are unrelated.

  • 26 Edog // Aug 31, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    My dog craps at least twice a day, at least. I wonder how they would like it if I started dropping all of her collected waste on their front door.

    But you know what, it would not stop there. They would call and complain in February, and give me 30 days to respond, and I'd like ignore it, and keep on pooping!

  • 27 Name // Aug 31, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    The comments here are so predictable.

  • 28 gurple // Aug 31, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    It would be a pretty poor defense attorney who didn't make sure that the phrase “the plaintiffs, one of whom was recently fined $12,000 by the Department of Ecology for environmental violations” didn't come up at least once every 10 minutes.

  • 29 SPG // Sep 1, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Lovely. The same attitude as the Bhopal disaster. How about we have one of those here too, just the cost of doing business, no?

  • 30 SPG // Sep 1, 2009 at 12:10 am

    I have. One project completed and one coming up.

  • 31 Edog // Sep 1, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Arguements presented before the hearing examiner don't quite work that way. Most of what is to be covered covers only what the agency did not did not do.

  • 32 boardbrown // Sep 1, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Actually, much of their business is indeed with private home owners and small time contractors. They're pretty much Johnny on the Spot when it comes to concrete.

  • 33 SweetRose // Sep 1, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Yeah right. You watch too much TV.

  • 34 boardbrown // Sep 1, 2009 at 12:26 am

    12G's is a slap on the wrist.

  • 35 SweetRose // Sep 1, 2009 at 12:26 am

    exactly my point board.

  • 36 chermoni // Sep 1, 2009 at 12:42 am

    Of course they own the road. That's how they got away with backing into my mom's car while she was driving down the road. Not only did they get away with it, they said it was her fault for not realizing that the truck was going to be backing up. They told her insurance company that they had someone that was out in the street directing traffic. Big fat lie, but when you're a little guy going up against people who can afford lawyers what can you do?

  • 37 Jesse // Sep 1, 2009 at 1:30 am

    which you communicated so well!


  • 38 Jesse // Sep 1, 2009 at 1:31 am

    yours included.

  • 39 NEIGHB0R // Sep 1, 2009 at 1:35 am

    Get real.

  • 40 bbb1 // Sep 1, 2009 at 2:33 am

    There is a whole trainload of irony here!!

    From the Ballard Chamber's declamation that 'the City should follow the same process as private businesses' (check), to the fact that one of the grounds on which SBSG and other appellants appealed the City's Determination of Non-Significance was on environmental grounds (check)

    Agree, $12k is chump change, when SBSG spent nearly that much in one quarter for the services of George Griffin to lobby the city and others on behalf of their cause.

    No doubt, with Nickels having gone down in flames, the boys (and girl, SB) are hoping they can get Mallahan in there, and have him put a stop to this foolishness — hence the subtle comments the astute reader might have noticed in the thread about new markings under the Ballard Bridge regarding funding schools instead of 'bike paths' This will be the mantra — spend money on police and teachers, not bikes. We can't afford it — never mind the money is ready, the shovels are ready, We are ready.

  • 41 boardbrown // Sep 1, 2009 at 2:38 am

    I knew you were gonna say that…

  • 42 sdrake1958 // Sep 1, 2009 at 3:19 am

    I hope they close their doors and simply move away from this armpit of a city. Perhaps then everybody would be happy. In fact, that property could be turned into welfare office, or an off leash area, or a fancy bike park. We don't need no stinkin businesses and it's employees. Up to no good and polluters on top of it all. Keep drinkin that Hatorade and Koolaid.

  • 43 Jesse // Sep 1, 2009 at 3:36 am

    why yes. the reason people are upset is because they want a fancy bike park instead of a business that is a good citizen of the planet let alone the city or neighborhood.

    can i have some bourbon in my haterade?

  • 44 SPG // Sep 1, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Not that I'm encouraging this mind you, but eventually something else will be there. Just like something else was there before the sand and gravel, and something before that. Demographics change and if the land can be better used in some other way, eventually it will.
    I suppose that this is one of the fears of the industrial crowd, that this area will become too nice to keep cheap rents for industries and they'll be forced out by condos, offices, or other more profitable uses of the land.

  • 45 boardbrown // Sep 1, 2009 at 4:28 am

    I've been a long time supporter of SBS&G. I've used them many times over the years, and frankly will continue to do so. Having a reliable concrete dispatch company in the city boundaries is a vital asset to the construction industry. I've never had any bad experiences there, and every single employee I've ever interacted with has been courteous and professional.

    I know it's not popular to like these guys…what with the bike trail and all. I get that. I'm saddened to hear about this fiasco. Clearly a few folks over there have f*cked up and need to pony up the fine and fix the problem. But I don't wish death to the business. Nor do I want to see them leave Ballard.

    Honestly, I'd like to see them become the environmental stewards they should be, work with the city to safely complete the BG trail, and stick around to keep a proper mix of industry in our fair 'hood.

  • 46 NoraBell // Sep 1, 2009 at 4:39 am

    To heck with the bike trail, Boardbrown. If they can't be the 'environmental stewards' they need to be then they shouldn't be here at all. This is inexcusable. They were warned to clean up their act and ignored it. Not right, and not Ballard.

  • 47 Chrispy // Sep 1, 2009 at 4:44 am

    Well, I for one have a little project coming up and will specify that SBSG not be used. Not because of this pollution but because of the completely idiotic blockade of the BG trail and their silly train/land grab.

    I can't wait until it becomes condos and a restaurant. The land is totally underutilized. I only wish there was some way for this to happen without the undeserving owners raking in the tons of money the property is now worth.

  • 48 boardbrown // Sep 1, 2009 at 5:11 am

    I agree. Totally. But I'd rather see them fix their mess and stick around than give up and go away.

  • 49 boardbrown // Sep 1, 2009 at 5:13 am

    Cadman Concrete is a good alternative. I've used them before as well. But their trucks dispatch from the Eastside…so there's limitations there as far as timing. Wet concrete sitting in a truck has a shelf life.

  • 50 msballard30 // Sep 1, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Take a look at Ecology's website, which regularly announces the fines and penalties it issues to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars each QUARTER to small and large companies all over the state that run afoul of the state laws/regs. It's not unlike the demerits and fines that restaurants and many other entities get hit with that are subject to enforcement actions. Just for January to March of this year Ecology issued over $600K in fines ( Don't get me wrong – repeatedly ignoring a state agency is an incredibly unwise move. No doubt, this is a black eye for SBS&G, but let's not blow this out of proportion.

  • 51 Red Baron // Sep 1, 2009 at 6:01 am

    Small change for SBSAG.
    Lawyers would have cost more so why bother.
    Like it was said by another poster: the cost of doing business.
    They'll get it reviewed and overturned.
    If not then at least delay payment for sometime
    Typical state workers trying to justify their paychecks.
    Perhaps some concrete might get spilled accidentally on a few state automobiles.
    More likely a contract with the state will net it back and then some.

  • 52 msballard30 // Sep 1, 2009 at 6:03 am

    That's what we need. More condos.

  • 53 doug11 // Sep 1, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Take ACTION over in the forum…

    We need to let SBS&G we are DISGUSTED by their failure to take State Dept of Ecology violations seriously.

  • 54 doug11 // Sep 1, 2009 at 6:07 am

    I love incidents like this because they provide crystal clear insight into how much these companies care about the environment and their neighbors.

    Everyone should call them and express their disgust.

  • 55 doug11 // Sep 1, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Condos, a bike trail, a restaurant for Christy, and maybe a dog park.

    Sand buyers buy elsewhere.

    Ballard wins.

  • 56 doug11 // Sep 1, 2009 at 6:49 am

    Yeah, everyone is polluting so why shouldn't we….

    Nice attitude. For Texas.

    But wrong for Ballard. Very very wrong.

  • 57 doug11 // Sep 1, 2009 at 6:53 am

    and on appeal. they already lost once.


  • 58 TTTCOTTH // Sep 1, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Ahhhhh yes. Three cheers for all you morons advocating jobs leaving Ballard. Let's all get government jobs and tax ourselves into prosperity.

  • 59 aresident // Sep 1, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    A quote from the article…

    “State law outlaws the discharge of foreign material to state waters. Other violations cited by the department include lack of a spill-response plan at the facility and not having records of required twice-yearly stormwater inspections.”

    Yes, if we do not protect our water quality jobs will leave. The Ballard economy is highly dependent on fishing. The reason these water quality laws are in place is to protect our industry hence local jobs. Illegal dumping in the marine environment harms are economy and eliminates jobs (as well as recreational opportunities). If we want to protect jobs we protect our natural resources.

  • 60 bmvaughn // Sep 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I didn't know people fished in Salmon Bay.

    These guys need to clean up their act, pure and simple. Being a profitable company and being a green company are traits that are not mutually exclusive. I wish them the best in cleaning up and then acting as a member of the community to find a solution for the BGT.

  • 61 aresident // Sep 1, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    If you want some actual facts, here is a link to a July2009 Seattle Times article concerning fish runs in the ship canal;

    Paraphrasing the article…The 2009 run was expected to be the lowest on record at 19,000 sockeye. A run of 350,000 sockeye is needed to support recreational and commercial fisheries. In 2006 the run was 453,000, the last year a recreational fishery for sockeye was held in Lake Washington.

    Also note these fish are a major food source for the Orca.

    These runs go directly by the Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel property.

    You are correct bmvaugn, people do not currently fish directly in Salmon Bay but the limited numbers of fish remaining all pass through there.

  • 62 HeatherHeather // Sep 1, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Yeah, let's not forget we are better humans than they are!

  • 63 ym // Sep 1, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Soooo. They write up a plan and create records of self inspections. that takes a clerk maybe a hour. They plant a little eel grass to mitigate for the few grains of gravel they lost off barges and all is back to normal. Fine retracted and the only one leaving Ballard is doug with his shorts in a wad.

    That's call SOP so all the drama is pointless as well as laughable.

  • 64 NoraBell // Sep 1, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Me too, Boardbrown. But from what I read it doesn't sound like they have any interest in fixing this.

  • 65 SPG // Sep 1, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    we are.

  • 66 doug11 // Sep 1, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    It won't be in front of the hearing examiner.

    They already LOST in front of the hearing examiner.

    The lawsuit is actually an appeal.

  • 67 Mondoman // Sep 1, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Gravel and sand aren't silt, and will sink quite quickly to the bottom. No danger of fish suffocating from that.
    Not responding to the regulators is certainly bad, but the actual spill seems quite benign.

  • 68 Pissedoffballardite // Sep 3, 2009 at 12:40 am

    you should read your own article…

    “This third crummy year in a row is still under analysis by biologists, who likely won't ever be able to finger any one cause. But poor food-production conditions in the ocean are most likely a key factor.”

  • 69 Pissedoffballardite // Sep 3, 2009 at 1:29 am

    I loved reading all of your comments, very amusing. those of you who wish for more condos, bike trails and dog parks instead of jobs are idiots. Who are not even really from Ballard you just live here now because that’s what's in. Followers of the sprawl! companies of Shilshole ave are what made this town. you would not have “my Ballard” without them it would just be Seattle. Ballard does not need more condos or trails. you people don't even use the new one on Seaview you just ride in the road that was shrunk down (for your trail) anyways. but you need more. why waste more money on pointless trails? just ride your bike wherever you want like you already do. about the fines have any of you actually read any legal documents on this or is everyone just blabbing on from hear-say or a blog from some idiot? posting Salmon Bay's # on here wont help anything unless the person calling is in need of help with building I wish that everyone would just leave Ballard alone I loved this place now it's just turning into people who can't be happy with what they have they always need more. stop thinking for other people just improve yourself and let Ballard thrive not suffocate with your ideas of a better society.

  • 70 crownpill // Sep 3, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Yep, heard this one before, Pissed, “These people should just go away.” We hear it from the eastern Washington and Lewis Co. nut jobs that want Seattle to disappear because of our progressivism. Just like the rest of the State shriveling up if Seattle kept to itself, so would local industrial business without these newcomers you deride. Yeah, I moved to the area, bought a house, pay my s$%t-ton of taxes, and have remodeled said house with materials bought at locally owned business. I'm not saying folks like me are the cornerstone of our local economy, but, without us, there'd be many fewer jobs and a much more depressed community.

    Keep some perspective, man. Honestly.

  • 71 Steve // Jan 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    First, the ship canal itself is an ecological state that does not justify all the regulations. The ship canal is man made, when the locks were constructed they raised the levels of Lake Wa and Union to the point where it is an industrial complex, not a habitat in need of preservation. It’s a high volume transportation corridor, there is no natural habitat to protect, there is nothing about the ship canal that would justify the fine or the harassment. City of Seattle, et al are just putting the pig snout into an old, respected, charitable, companies wallet. Those are the just the jobs we need, blue collar workers, union wages, and the city wants to harass the owners. It’s been a barge terminal for sand and gravel for over 100 years. It is not and wil never again be “natural habitat” to protect. It is an industrial waterway…got that? Industrial waterway, not a polluted natural resource.

  • 72 Xypexcrw // Jan 28, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    What are you all going to do when this fine old company says screw this…all of our lands and building are paid for..let’s fire 150 employees, stop operations, and sell off the property. Asinine nanny government.

  • 73 Artgog // Jun 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    hey that company has been serving your community for years ,you poor little industry breakers maybe you can get them to move to China like every thing else you buy. 

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