Prosecutors file charges against Darigold for Issaquah spill
June 15, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 6 a.m. June 15, 2011
Federal prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges against Darigold on Tuesday for a fish-killing ammonia spill into Issaquah Creek.
Prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle contend Darigold violated the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act because the October 2009 spill impacted Puget Sound chinook salmon, a species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The spill occurred during maintenance and repair to the refrigeration system at the downtown Issaquah dairy. State investigators said a crew draining part of the refrigeration system allowed a toxic ammonia solution to flow onto the roof of the creekside building and down a storm drain.
In charging documents, federal prosecutors said Seattle-based Darigold acted “negligently” in discharging the pollutant.
State investigators said about 50 to 70 gallons of the liquid flowed into a storm drain system and discharged into the East Fork of Issaquah Creek. In the moments after the spill, a state Department of Fish and Wildlife survey team conducting a salmon spawning survey in the creek smelled a strong ammonia odor and observed about 40 to 50 dead fish downstream from the Darigold storm water outfall.
The dead fish included chinook and coho salmon, trout and sculpin, a small fish. Following the incident, state investigators said the spill had killed mostly sculpin.
In October 2010, the state Department of Ecology fined Darigold $10,000 for the spill — the maximum penalty under state law.
Following the state penalty, company executives said Darigold updated procedures to prevent similar accidents.