Land use | News

The Columbian: Environmental Group Sues Over Yacolt Quarry

The Columbian | Nov. 20, 2013 2:21 a.m. | Updated: Nov. 20, 2013 10:51 a.m. | Vancouver, Washington

Contributed By:

Eric Florip / Columbian staff writer

A Clark County environmental group has filed a lawsuit against a Yacolt mining operation, claiming years of pollution and violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Friends of the East Fork Lewis River claims that the Yacolt Mountain Quarry and its owners have discharged dirt, silt and other pollutants into tributaries of the East Fork. The suit names quarry operator J.L. Storedahl & Sons, Inc., company leaders and landowner Brent Rotschy as defendants.

The quarry operation has long been a source of frustration among residents in the area. Friends of the East Fork President Richard Dyrland said the plaintiffs feel legal action is the only way to resolve the situation after years of problems. Opponents have contacted Storedahl directly in the past, he said, plus county, state and federal officials.

“We felt that things were not getting corrected as they should be, and this has been an ongoing thing,” Dyrland said. “If we’re going to get anything changed we had to take this step.”

A representative of Kelso-based Storedahl was not immediately available to comment Tuesday.

The Yacolt Mountain Quarry began operating in 2008, extracting rock from the north Clark County site. The operation discharges pollutants including nitrates, oil and grease into an intended infiltration pond, according to the lawsuit, which frequently overflows and carries those substances into the East Fork Lewis River system — seen as crucial habitat for threatened salmon.

Pollutants are also released and washed down along an adjacent haul road, according to the complaint. And residents have long complained of impacts to local wells, safety hazards and other concerns stemming from the operation.

The lawsuit asks a judge to remediate past and future environmental harm in the area, and impose fines against the quarry operators. It also seeks economic and noneconomic damages for co-plaintiff David Rogers, a Friends of the East Fork board member who owns land near the quarry.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro; eric.florip@columbian.com.

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