The Washington State Department of Ecology recently announced it has fined Seasoft Scuba Gear Inc. US$197,000 (~173,734 Euros) for allegedly dumping hazardous waste containing lead and arsenic down the toilet, into a storm drain and onto the ground.

A July 2018 investigation by Ecology and the Department of Labor & Industries found that lead dust was present on many exposed surfaces inside Seasoft Scuba’s northwest Lacey warehouse, including unsold merchandise, table tops, walls, and employee eating areas. Outside, lead shot was found near mixing and dumping locations, and contamination coated soils, shrubs and the surface of the parking lot. Sampling confirmed that lead and arsenic contamination were present in the soil.

The department said:

“The dangerous waste was created by a process that removed corrosion from lead shot reclaimed from shooting ranges. The clean lead was then used to manufacture diving weights. Wastewater from the process became a toxic slurry of lead and arsenic. Property leased by the company at 8294 28th Ct. NE is now a listed toxic cleanup site because of lead and arsenic contamination.”

According to Darin Rice, Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program Manager:

“It’s common knowledge today just how dangerous exposure to lead is. Seasoft’s actions were intentional and resulted in egregious violations with serious impacts to human health and the environment.”

Seasoft’s alleged failure to properly handle its waste led to three serious hazardous waste violations that exposed the unprotected workers and the environment to contamination — illegal disposal, illegal transport, and failure to control spills and releases.

The state departments of Health and Labor & Industries are working with Seasoft employees to determine how much lead and arsenic they were allegedly exposed to and what health effects the toxic chemicals may have had on them or their families.

Bruce Justinen, President of Seasoft Scuba, said:

“The site, under the supervision of a knowledgeable contractor and Ecology, has already begun to be cleaned and contaminated material has been removed to a hazardous waste facility for treatment and elimination. We know this is a serious matter and have sought the guidance of both L&I and Ecology to ensure that we operate in a safe and lawful manner.”

The property has been listed on the state’s Cleanup Site Register, and the company has 30 days to pay the fine or appeal it to the state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board.

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