AG gives notice of intent to sue Navy for dumping toxic waste into inlet

OLYMPIA — State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the U.S. Navy dumped hazardous waste including copper and zinc, into Puget Sound and must be stopped from doing it again.

Ferguson’s office notified the Navy on Thursday of the state’s intent to join a suit in federal court to ask the Navy to clean up the mess and to require it to stop scraping ships at Navy Base Kitsap on Bremerton and dumping the material in Sinclair Inlet.

The Navy is aware of the AG’s notice on intent to sue, said Navy spokesman Rory O’Connor on Friday afternoon. He referred inquiries to the federal Department of Justice.

Ferguson said that while cleaning a decommissioned aircraft carrier in January 2017, the Navy dumped scraped-off paint into Sinclair Inlet in violation of state and federal laws.

The process released about 50 dump truck loads of solid materials, including copper and zinc, into the water, Ferguson’s office said in a press release. Copper and zinc are toxic to marine life; for example, copper can harm salmon’s ability to navigate to spawning streams or to avoid predators, Ferguson said.

In June 2017, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Washington Environmental Council and the Suquamish Tribe filed a lawsuit against the Navy, asserting that it had violated the federal Clean Water Act by releasing toxic substances into the inlet without a permit while cleaning the hull of a decommissioned aircraft carrier, Ferguson’s office said.

The Attorney General said he told the federal government that he will seek to join the groups’ case if the Navy does not resolve the issue within 60 days.

“The Navy’s longstanding activities at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard have resulted in significant amounts of hazardous waste being released into Sinclair Inlet for more than a century,” Ferguson’s office said.

“Due to the heavy contamination, the EPA considers Sinclair Inlet a Superfund site, and the federal government has spent millions attempting to clean its waters,” the release continued.

“The inlet currently does not meet standards for human recreation, fish consumption or the protection of aquatic life.”

More in News

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they offload equipment from the ferry MV Coho after its return to Port Angeles from annual dry dock maintenance in Anacortes on Wednesday. The ferry is scheduled to resume regular service between Port Angeles and Victoria today. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Preparing for service

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they… Continue reading

Dr. Suzanne Ames.
Peninsula College adapting to next generation of students

Aim is to engage, meet workforce needs

Officials: Combine Simdars, Johnson Creek road projects

Clallam County, Sequim, tribe urge coordination

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound Express, is the first vessel to take advantage of the early reopening of the Point Hudson Marina on Wednesday after four months of closure to rebuild its north jetty. The marina will close again after the Wooden Boat Festival ends Sept. 10, when rebuilding the south jetty will start with a scheduled re-opening in March 2024. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Point Hudson marina reopens

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound… Continue reading

Amy Miller has been appointed to a seat on the Port Angeles City Council to fill a seat vacated by Mike French, who resigned to become a Clallam County commissioner. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Amy Miller tapped for Port Angeles City Council

Appointee fills seat vacated by Mike French

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards, will be back in service Thursday. Yearly maintenance began Jan. 3. The maintenance is taking a few days longer due to COVID-19 the past two years, Black Ball Ferry Line officials have said. The ship returns to twice-daily round trips across the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Victoria and Port Angeles at 8:20 a.m. Thursday. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Coho maintenance

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards,… Continue reading

East Jefferson Fire Rescue town halls focus on lid lift

Ballot measure to go before voters on Feb. 14

Planning work priorities to be discussed

Jefferson County’s Board of County Commissioners and its Planning… Continue reading

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim Lawson devote their Sunday to trimming and pruning the Blue Heron orchard at Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend, to promote growth and health of the fruit trees, some of which were planted in 2010. The fruit goes to the school and is available to students. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Pruning fruit trees

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim… Continue reading

Most Read