Tacoma tideflats recycling company fined again for toxic spills

For the second time in five months, the state has fined a Tacoma recycling company for spilling toxic waste.

Emerald Services, Inc., a waste-management company on the Tacoma tideflats, was fined $99,000 by the state Department of Ecology for two back-to-back spills on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 of 2014.

A tank overflowed and spilled 100 gallons of “dangerous waste solvent” at the facility, the department said. The spill was the result of employee error, officials said, highlighting shortcomings in training.

Ecology said it has investigated 19 incidents at the business since February 2014, a particularly high number. The plant is located at 1825 Alexander Ave. E. on the Tacoma tideflats, between the Blair and Hylebos waterways.

Emerald’s Tacoma plant recyles waste industrial solvents and antifreeze and re-refines used motor oil. Since 2006, Emerald has received penalties totaling more than $150,000.

“Recurring spills and safety violations at Emerald are unacceptable and a threat to workers, neighboring businesses and Commencement Bay,” said Darin Rice, who manages the department’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction program.

Investigators also found training and emergency coordination violations, according to the Ecology Department.

The earlier penalty came in April for $68,000, for an eruption of hot petroleum material in October 2013 that spilled 1,900 gallons of a recycled fuel oil and asphalt mixture and injured a worker. A second spill in January of 2014 spilled 150 gallons of the same material.

Emerald Services is appealing the fine.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653