Vessel Owners Fined
by Don Patterson
A St. Helens man was fined $110,677 by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for polluting the Columbia River. DEQ fined Clay Jonak of Longview and Roger Ison of St. Helens $110,677 for asbestos, solid waste and water quality violations occurring at the submerged land lease site they both control in Columbia County. The site is near river mile 75 on the Columbia River, approximately a half-mile upstream and to the southeast of Goble.
DEQ said it cited Jonak and Ison, owners and operators of the leasehold, for violations of Oregon laws that prohibit the accumulation of solid waste, the open accumulation of asbestos-containing material and the release of petroleum-based fuel into the Columbia River. Jonak and Ison acquired the lease in 2012. The site included the River Queen, a derelict riverboat that once served as a restaurant in Portland. Since obtaining the lease, a total of 28 vessels in various states of disrepair have accumulated at the site.
In addition to assessing the civil penalty, DEQ has ordered Jonak and Ison to correct the violations. DEQ said it had previously requested they take corrective actions and Jonak and Ison have not complied with those requests.
DEQ said it issued a penalty for solid waste violations because it is against the law to dispose of solid wastes anywhere except at a permitted disposal facility.
The asbestos violations resulted from the asbestos-containing materials in the vessels at the site have the potential to expose workers, tenants and the public to asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a hazardous air contaminant proven to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. DEQ requires asbestoes to be abated and appropriately disposed of by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor.
DEQ also issued the penalty resulting from the release of petroleum diesel fuel from a vessel that sank into the Columbia River.
$56,677 of the civil penalty represents the economic benefit DEQ said Jonak and Ison gained by failing to properly dispose of identified asbestos-containing material.
Jonak and Ison have until June 14 to appeal the penalty.
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