The Puyallup Tribe is grateful for the work of the Attorney General’s office and the attorneys on the ground fighting to bring about accountability for environmental crimes committed by Electron Hydro.
The result, though, doesn’t come close to accountability. A token of dollars won’t bring back salmon or habitat.
The guilty plea to just one of 36 counts in this case does not bring justice compared to the harm caused and the damage to the Tribe’s natural resources. Electron Hydro and Mr. Fischer, after hearing concerns and reluctance from the company’s own staff and biologist over the course of many days, still went ahead with placing artificial turf in the river. This was intentional polluting of the river in violation of the Clean Water Act. Had it not been for one contract worker, his cell phone and social media, the residents of Washington might have never known that this had happened and who was responsible. We would have been left to wonder how large pieces of artificial turf containing chemicals research has shown are harmful to salmon, some several square feet in size, are still being found by the Tribe’s biologists today.
The company has not cleaned up its mess, and now its Canadian owner will simply write a check to go back to business as normal—a check that amounts to approximately one month’s revenue for the facility when it was operating.
This is not accountability. This is a mere operating expense for the company. The health of our people and the residents of Washington is worth a lot more than that.
The fact remains that pollutants are still in the river and this antiquated dam remains one of the biggest salmon threats in south Puget Sound. Nothing has changed in that regard. The Tribe will continue to work to correct this situation by requiring this facility and its owners to come into compliance with the law, including to make sure this facility does not continue to harm salmon, the Tribe’s Treaty Rights and resources, and the residents of this state.
—The Puyallup Tribal Council