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.

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2 Responses to “Prosecutors file charges against Darigold for Issaquah spill”

  1. hector tejeda on June 15th, 2011 9:10 am

    Like your firm,strong,direct rules for comments……$10,000 just is not enough of a fine. The workers should be EPA certified when working with any refrigerant thus making them just as responsible as the company and prosecuted using EPA rulings. The fines with EPA go up to $27,500. I think the US Atty’s missed this one……

  2. Deborah Freng on June 15th, 2011 11:49 am

    The US Attorney’s Office needs stronger legal sanctions in place for Corporations like Darigold. This fine is a joke. $10,000 for polluting waters that HUMANS also swim in is simply not painful enough for Darigold to feel. What happens in an earthquake if those ammonia tanks rupture? Are they double walled? Lets address/mitigate the structural ammonia storage vulnerabilities in addition to regulation/certification of cleaning procedures.

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