Energy NW to Pay $80,000 PenaltyDrew Foster
The News Tribune, September 9, 2007
Energy Northwest must pay an $80,000 fine to the state for waste management violations after a penalty against the Richland-based power supplier was recently upheld.
The state Pollution Control Hearings Board upheld the 2007 complaint, filed by the state Department of Ecology after waste management violations were found at the Columbia Generating Center nuclear power plant outside Richland. But the board reduced the amount of the penalties from $120,000 to $80,000.
Jane Hedges, Department of Ecology Nuclear Waste Program manager, said the violations were discovered during six weeks of inspections between July and August 2007.
According to an administrative order issued to Energy Northwest in early October 2007, the Department of Ecology's findings included the discovery of two 55-gallon drums partially full of unknown liquids and 17 partially full plastic bags containing soil contaminated by petroleum products. Also found were a 10-gallon drum partially full of "dark sludge," and 12 five-gallon pails full of liquid waste, some of which was labeled paint.
"They call it waste, which means it's not being used," said Rochelle Olson, Energy Northwest's manager of public affairs. She said most of the waste was oil and paint.
Hedges and Olson said Energy Northwest quickly took action to better label and dispose of waste products. Hedges said Energy Northwest also was ordered to increase waste-handling training, which she said the power supplier did.
"(Energy Northwest) did take care of everything," Hedges said. "They actually did a very nice job of responding."
Said Olson: "Even before the inspection was completed two years ago, we started to immediately fix some of the problems (Ecology) found."
Olson also said Energy Northwest eliminated what it calls its temporary waste storage areas at the nuclear power plant in fall 2008 and now streamlines the disposal of waste.
The 2007 waste management violations were found during a full-plant inspection the Department of Ecology performs at the nuclear power plant every three to five years, Hedges said, adding that the department performs smaller-scale inspections more frequently. She doesn't think the violations will lead to the full-plant inspections being performed more often at the Columbia Generating Station.
Energy Northwest initially challenged the violations, but the state Pollution Control Hearings Board upheld them in March. The Department of Ecology and Energy Northwest disagreed over the nature and seriousness of the identified violations.
Hedges said Department of Ecology personnel performed follow-up inspections at the nuclear power plant and found that the violations had been addressed.
"Energy Northwest has made substantial improvements in managing dangerous wastes and in the training received by all personnel," said Steve Szendre, compliance inspector for Ecology's Nuclear Waste Program, in a statement. "Ecology continues to work with the company to ensure the safety of the public and the environment at the site."
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs