News Releases from Region 10
EPA Settles with Omak, WA lumber mill for repeatedly violating federal clean air rules
(Seattle – July 21, 2016) PNW Wind Down LLC, will pay an $89,000 penalty for repeatedly violating federal clean air rules while leasing and operating a tribally owned facility on the Colville Reservation in Omak, Washington. The facility is a lumber mill that produced plywood veneer from raw timber. The predecessor company was known as Omak Wood Products.
In a settlement announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA alleges that PNW Wind Down LLC exceeded permitted opacity limits during an emissions source test, failed to abide by the terms and conditions of a compliance order that the company agreed to, and did not submit a complete response to an Information Request issued by EPA under the Clean Air Act.
The facility, owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and leased and operated by Omak Wood Products LLC, the predecessor to PNW Wind Down LLC, re-started in September 2013 after being shut-down for several years. EPA and Colville Tribal Air Quality staff received multiple complaints of heavy smoke and particulate pollution from local residents after the facility resumed operations. Following these complaints, EPA provided several months of extensive technical and compliance assistance to the facility.
Despite EPA’s assistance, the facility failed to come into compliance and EPA issued an initial Notice of Violation in December 2013. To address those violations, EPA and the facility entered into an Administrative Compliance Order on Consent in March 2014. After additional problems arose, EPA issued a formal Information Request in November 2014, then a second Notice of Violation in April 2015, prior to initiating the current penalty action.
According to Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA Region 10's Office of Compliance and Enforcement, “Operating a facility before air pollution controls are fully in place and effective, violating the terms of a compliance order, and not responding accurately to an Information Request are serious violations that we enforce aggressively. Companies operating air pollution sources on tribal lands will be held to the same Clean Air Act standards as those operating outside of a reservation,” said Kowalski.
The Federal Air Rules for Reservations protect human health and the environment for approximately 200,000 people living and working on and near reservations in the Pacific Northwest. Before these rules were passed, very few basic air quality rules applied to tribal reservations under the federal Clean Air Act because state and local air agencies do not have authority to administer their rules on Indian lands.
For more information about Federal Air Rules for Reservations, visit: https://www.epa.gov/farr.