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Grain handler sued over Clean Water Act claim

Mateusz Perkowski
Louis Dreyfus Commodities is accused of violating the Clean Water Act in a lawsuit filed by the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.

An environmental group has filed a lawsuit accusing a major grain handler of violating the Clean Water Act.

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, a non-profit, claims that a grain export facility in Seattle owned by Louis Dreyfus Commodities failed to abide by the terms of its Clean Water Act permit.

A spokesperson for Louis Dreyfus Commodities said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

The grain company is allowed to discharge stormwater as long as it meets certain conditions, but the environmental group claims Louis Dreyfus violated its CWA permit by failing to properly monitor stormwater and report discharge data.

Chris Wilke, executive director of the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, said his group isn’t sure which pollutants the facility may be discharging.

“At this point, we don’t know what’s in their stormwater because they haven’t done the monitoring,” Wilke said.

If grain is discharged in the stormwater, that could be harmful because it would increase nutrients that encourage algae, he said.

Algae can block light and deprive the water of oxygen when it dies, affecting marine life, Wilke said.

“It can be a harmful pollutant in significant quantity,” he said of grain discharge.

It’s not certain that grain is discharged into stormwater, but the possibility is a concern, as is pollution from maintaining heavy equipment, Wilke said.

The group’s complaint asks the court for injunctive relief, but Wilke said he wants to compel the company to begin monitoring and reporting, rather than shut down the facility.



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