LACEY – The Washington Department of Ecology fined Seasoft Scuba Gear Inc. $197,000 for illegally dumping hazardous waste containing lead and arsenic down the toilet, into a storm drain and onto the ground.

The Lacey company’s poor and illegal handling of its waste risked the health of its employees and polluted the environment, the Department of Ecology states in a news release.

A July 2018 Ecology and Department of Labor & Industries investigation found that lead dust was present on many exposed surfaces inside Seasoft Scuba’s northwest Lacey warehouse, including unsold merchandise, table tops, walls, and employee eating areas. Outside, lead shot was found near mixing and dumping locations, and contamination coated soils, shrubs and the surface of the parking lot.

Sampling confirmed that lead and arsenic contamination were present in the soil.

The dangerous waste was created by a process that removed corrosion from lead shot reclaimed from shooting ranges. The clean lead was then used to manufacture diving weights. Wastewater from the process became a toxic slurry of lead and arsenic.

Property leased by the company at 8294 28th Ct. NE is now a listed toxic cleanup site because of contamination.

“It’s common knowledge today just how dangerous exposure to lead is,” said Darin Rice, Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program manager. “Seasoft’s actions were intentional and resulted in egregious violations with serious impacts to human health and the environment.”

Lead is a toxic metal that can cause kidney and brain damage in adults, and exposure is especially dangerous for children. Arsenic is also toxic, causing skin disorders and cancer.

Seasoft’s failure to properly handle its waste led to three serious hazardous waste violations that exposed the unprotected workers and the environment to contamination – illegal disposal, illegal transport, and failure to control spills and releases.

The state departments of Health and Labor & Industries are working with Seasoft employees to determine how much lead and arsenic they were exposed to and what health effects the toxic chemicals may have had on them or their families.

“The site, under the supervision of a knowledgeable contractor and Ecology, has already begun to be cleaned and contaminated material has been removed to a hazardous waste facility for treatment and elimination," said Bruce Justinen, president of Seasoft Scuba. "We know this is a serious matter and have sought the guidance of both L&I and Ecology to ensure that we operate in a safe and lawful manner.”

Ecology is taking additional regulatory action to require the cleanup of the contamination, including listing the property on the state’s Cleanup Site Register.

The company has 30 days to pay the fine or appeal it to the state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board.

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