"Clean Water Act’s Anti-Pollution Goals Prove Elusive"

"Beside Seattle’s notoriously polluted Duwamish River, an excavator scoops up small pieces of waste metal and slings them onto a rusty mountain at Seattle Iron & Metals Corp. A pile of flattened cars and trucks squats nearby amid vast sheets of scrap metal. For at least the last four years, this auto-shredder and metal recycler has dumped more pollutants into the river than allowed under the federal Clean Water Act, government records show. The levels have ranged higher than 250 times above what’s known to harm salmon that migrate through the river."

"The company, which declined to comment for this story, has reported its violations to the government, as required by law. But instead of punishing the metal recycler, the Washington Department of Ecology encouraged the company to reduce its pollution levels. The agency also searched for a legal way to make Seattle Iron & Metals’ pollution limits more lenient, and says it plans to relax them soon."

Robert McClure and Jason Alcorn report for InvestigateWest with Bonnie Stewart for EarthFix July 18, 2012. The article is part of a special report series, "Clean Water: The Next Act," produced collaboratively by InvestigateWest, Earthfix, and Ecotrope. Reporters/producers involved also included Amelia Templeton, Ashley Ahearn, Cassandra Profita, Katie Campbell, and Courtney Flatt.

SEE ALSO:

"Agriculture Is Nation's Biggest Water Polluter But Usually Goes Unpunished" (InvestigateWest)

Interactive Map: "Clean Water Act Penalties in Washington, Idaho and Oregon" (InvestigateWest)

"Clean Water Act’s Next Role Could Play Out On NW Logging Roads" (EarthFix)

"Polluted Waters: How Clean Is Clean?" (OPB/KUOW)

"A Clean Water Act Primer" (EarthFix)

"Northwest Water Quality By The Numbers" (EarthFix)

"Poll Finds Water Quality NW Residents Top Concern" (Northwest Public Radio)

Series Portal: Oregon Public Broadcasting