A lumber company accused of polluting a Tacoma waterway has agreed to settle, EPA says

Manke Lumber has agreed to settle allegations it violated the Clean Water Act at its Tacoma Tideflats facility, the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday.

Manke will pay a $320,000 penalty and build a treatment system to fix water quality violations, the EPA said.

The company will also invest in a project that will designate 38 acres of undeveloped land for conservation and recreation in Mason County. That includes 1,500 feet of Goldsborough Creek, 580 feet of a tributary and a 20-acre riparian corridor.

The project will provide good salmon-spawning habitat and will keep pollution away from the creek, the EPA said.

“Wastewater from lumber yards typically contains high pH, wood debris, oils and high levels of solids,” the EPA said in a press release about the settlement. “When these solids settle, they can form sediment deposits that destroy plant life and spawning grounds of fish.”

The News Tribune left a message Monday seeking comment from Manke’s attorney.

A complaint the EPA filed about two years ago in U.S. District Court in Tacoma alleged that Manke violated the Clean Water Act by sending polluted water into the Hylebos Waterway, without a proper permit.

The stormwater and wastewater at the facility comes into contact with sawdust, chemicals and metals, the agency found.

The EPA’s complaint asked the court to fine Manke more than $50,000 a day for some violations.

The agency didn’t say what that would have added up to.

“This settlement means less stormwater pollution and more salmon habitat for Puget Sound,” EPA Regional Administrator Chris Hladick said in the news release. “By upgrading and improving their stormwater controls and restoring habitat, Manke is investing in the future. Reducing stormwater pollution furthers our work to protect and restore Puget Sound.”

The public will have 30 days to comment on the agreement at justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees, once it’s filed in federal court.

In addition to Tacoma, Manke has offices in Sumner and Shelton. Its 400 Pierce County workers made it the county’s 52nd-largest employer in 2016, according to the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.

Alexis Krell covers local, state and federal court cases that affect Pierce County. She started covering courts in 2016. Before that she wrote about crime and breaking news for almost four years as The News Tribune’s night reporter.