CASHMERE — Crunch Pak will pay $150,000 and reduce pollution runoff into the Wenatchee River from its Cashmere facility after settling a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. Eastern District Court.
Columbia Riverkeeper sued the fruit-packing company in December 2018 alleging it violated the federal Clean Water Act and state laws restricting pollution industrial facilities can release into waterways.
“Today’s agreement is a win for clean water. We are holding industrial polluters accountable for releasing toxic water pollution,” said Simone Anter, associate attorney with Columbia Riverkeeper, in a news release. “The settlement will reduce harmful pollution and fund important work to improve salmon habitat and water quality.”
U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson approved the settlement.
Crunch Pak did not admit any of the allegations by the nonprofit group, which works to restore and protect the Columbia River and its tributaries. A Crunch Pak spokesperson could not be reached to comment early Wednesday evening.
The environmental group accused Crunch Pak of discharging unhealthy levels of copper and zinc into the river over a period of five years from its Cashmere fruit-processing facility on Sunset Highway.
Copper is bad for young salmon and steelhead, and the added copper and zinc increased the river’s murkiness, which can lead to harmful bacteria growth, the Riverkeeper news release said.
Riverkeeper alleged Crunch Pak also violated federal and state requirements by repeatedly failing to collect and analyze industrial stormwater pollution.
Under the settlement, Crunch Pak will pay $150,000 to Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, an Oakland, California-based advocacy group, for projects that will benefit the Columbia River and its NCW tributaries.
Court documents said that Crunch Pak began reducing its stormwater discharges after receiving notification of Riverkeeper’s intent to sue. It did so by increasing its treatment of stormwater, rerouting stormwater from the northern portion of the facility to an onsite infiltration pond and buying new stormwater treatment systems.