Weyerhaeuser Settles Suit For $600K Over Water Violations

LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) — Timber company Weyerhaeuser will pay $600,000 after reaching a settlement with conservation group Columbia Riverkeeper, despite denying allegations it had broken Washington state water quality laws.

The Daily News in Longview reported Riverkeeper in March sued Weyerhaeuser NR Company’s Longview mill.

Under the settlement reached this week, the timber company will pay $600,000 to Seeding Justice for its Columbia River Restoration Fund. Each violation after the agreement goes into effect will cost Weyerhaeuser $5,000.

“While we acknowledge the stormwater exceedances stemming from one or more of the facilities at the site, we did not break the law and continue to deny any wrongdoing related to this issue,” Weyerhaeuser Public Affairs Manager Mary Catherine McAleer said in a statement. “We do, however, accept our shared responsibility in the community and the need to take positive, proactive measures to help protect and invest in the river.”

Weyerhaeuser also was ordered to pay about $119,000 to cover Riverkeeper’s legal costs.

Weyerhaeuser by Dec. 31 must also reroute one of its stormwater pipes so it no longer flows into the Columbia River and instead goes to a waste treatment plant, according to court documents.

The court also ordered the company to install aerators, one or more flow meters with monitoring probes, particulate streams and biochar sock filters at its facility.

The U.S. Department of Justice has 45 days to review the settlement and after that a federal district court judge must approve the agreement.

“People rely on the Columbia for clean water and strong salmon runs,” Riverkeeper staff attorney Simone Anter said in a news release. “No corporation, including Weyerhaeuser, has the right to flout the law and pollute this irreplaceable river. The requirements of this agreement will see significant steps to reduce pollution at this massive facility.”

Riverkeeper sued Weyerhaeuser on grounds it had violated the Clean Water Act.

“We have been working cooperatively with the Department of Ecology to address these concerns and are involved in an ongoing process to set appropriate permit conditions and standards for all facilities,” McAleer wrote in the statement.

In February, the Washington Department of Ecology fined the company’s Longview mill $40,000 for water quality and monitoring violations.