The owners of a hydroelectric project in south-central Washington violated the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Department of Justice says in a lawsuit seeking monetary damages and cleanup work.
The Seattle Times reports that the Justice Department filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Electron Hydro, LLC, which owns the Electron Hydroelectric Project on the Puyallup River.
The lawsuit contends the company in July without authorization used old field turf from a dump as a bottom layer when it diverted the river. But 600 square yards (500 square meters) of the turf tore into pieces and entered the river channel.
The turf can break down and discharge toxins in the river that contains salmon and bull trout.
The Justice Department is seeking $55,800 per day for each violation. Lisa Anderson, environmental attorney for the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, said the fine could exceed $10 million.
The company didn’t notify regulators of the incident, but it came to light when an Electron Hydro employee outraged with what happened in a river he had fished all his life posted on social media.
Officials at Electron Hydro could not be reached for comment.