Submitted by Eric Chandler.
That question has been asked by me and many others and has, as yet, failed to be answered satisfactorily by ANY WA State entity.
Who is responsible for this mess?
- Western State Hospital…a state agency that did all of the initial polluting over a period of 65 years.
- Pierce College…a state agency that had a defective sewer system which caused further, intermittent polluting for 40 years.
- City of Lakewood…with the illicit approval of a WA state government agency, has only added to the problem by dumping ineffective chemicals into the lake.
According to Federal and State Law…WA State Department of Ecology has a specifically assigned responsibility under provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act and legislatively enacted RCWs, and legislatively approved WACs to act responsibly when using Ecology’s authority.
Ecology’s Mission in this regard is spelled out in RCW 90.48.010 which states:
“It is declared to be the public policy of the state of Washington to maintain the highest possible standards to insure the purity of all waters of the state consistent with public health and public enjoyment thereof, the propagation and protection of wild life, birds, game, fish and other aquatic life, and the industrial development of the state, and to that end require the use of all known available and reasonable methods by industries and others to prevent and control the pollution of the waters of the state of Washington. Consistent with this policy, the state of Washington [Ecology] will exercise its powers, as fully and as effectively as possible, to retain and secure high quality for all waters of the state.”
So, how is WA State Ecology given authority to take action on polluters? It is through the auspices of The Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA). This is Washington’s Environmental Cleanup Law. “MTCA funds and directs the investigation, cleanup, and prevention of sites that are contaminated by hazardous substances. It works to protect people’s health and the environment, and to preserve natural resources for the future.” In other words, the intention is to PREVENT FURTHER POLLUTION.
Now, let’s look at what happens to a “different” polluter….it was publicized in the media in June 2019 that the WA State Ecology Department announced action on a portion of Bainbridge Island’s Port Blakely coastline to reclaim and make-good an area which had been polluted by a lumber mill that was operational in some fashion from 1864 thru 1922. Ecology wound up requiring the current company, Port Blakely Tree Farms, the modern-version of the company that ran the mill, and the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park District, which acquired the site from the company and now owns the property, for restitution of those tidelands.
Current Status of this endeavor? ”Awaiting Cleanup”. Following is a link to Ecology’s website giving this project’s history https://apps.ecology.wa.gov/cleanupsearch/site/14770
The way Ecology is addressing the Port Blakely situation versus the Waughop Lake case is duplicitous. In the latter case, they are letting the guilty governmental parties (THE POLLUTERS), Western State Hospital (WA Department of Social & Health Services) and Pierce College (WA State Board for Community and Technical Colleges), off the hook for paying for the removal of the polluting product (i.e., 3-ft+ layers of nutrient-dense, phosphorous-laden sediment, and further polluted by Alum Treatments).
Bottom line, DSHS and Pierce College, as State Governmental Entities, Are Responsible For Their Pollution Of Waughop Lake! So why is the WA State Ecology not insisting on pollution remediation (per the MTCA) of this lake?
Obviously Ecology would rather have the City of Lakewood and Pierce County private-property-owners fund a consultant’s prescribed $420,000 alum treatment (PLUS ANOTHER ONE) that will only mask one effect of the pollution and Not Remediate the problem as prescribed in the Federal Clean Water Act, RCW Chapter 90.48, and WAC Chapter 173-226.
However, apparently, if it is a PRIVATE, NON-WA-State-governmental entity that has done or even in some tangible/intangible way associated with the polluting, then the “polluter pays”…even if they were NOT the instigators of said pollution. However, it appears that if the polluter is a WA state agency…the Law Does Not Apply.
In June of 2019 I sent a certified letter to Governor Inslee, covering the above facts, and asking him, especially since he had committed himself to the 2020 Presidential race, acting as an Ecology-conscious candidate, if he could step in and set things right with respect to Waughop Lake.
So…what is my point in sending this letter to Suburban Times readers?
I have tried, Tom, Don, and several others have tried to get the right thing done…now it is your turn folks.
As many of you as possible please get the wherewithal to write the Mayor, City Council, and, your state legislators and, yes, even the Governor. Use whatever means of communicating you have…handwritten letter, email, and any-and-all social media to get the word out.
Let us all, as responsible Lakewood citizens, put a stop to this duplicity and get our elected leaders to do what is morally, ethically, and legally correct!