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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cashmere company Crunch Pak faces lawsuit over pollutant emissions

A worker sorts through apples at Crunch Pak, an apple slicing company in Cashmere, Wash., in November 2010. The Columbia Riverkeeper filed a lawsuit in December 2018, to fine the company over alleged polutant exceedences in the Columbia River. (Shannon Dininny / Associated Press)
By Tony Buhr Wenatchee World

CASHMERE, Wash. – A Washington environmental organization is suing Cashmere-based apple snack company, Crunch Pak, over alleged violations to its state stormwater permit.

Crunch Pak’s attorney J. Patrick Aylward received the complaint from Columbia Riverkeeper on Wednesday.

Aylward and Crunch Pak’s representatives could not be reached to comment.

Columbia Riverkeeper asked the judge to fine Crunch Pak $37,500 for every day the company was in violation, as well as an additional $53,484 per day.

And it would like the court to order Crunch Pak to take “specific actions” to fix any environmental impact from not monitoring the pollutants in its releases.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington in early December, alleges Crunch Pak:

  • Released stormwater into the Wenatchee River from 2013 to 2018 that contained higher than the allowed amount of pollutants.
  • Failed to report the pollutant levels in its stormwater releases to Ecology several times.
  • Did not take the corrective action it was required to by law to fix pollutant levels.

The organization accused the apple snack company of violating the terms of its industrial storm water permit with Ecology.

Columbia Riverkeeper is a nonprofit that works to protect Columbia River water quality and life connected to the river.

Columbia Riverkeeper asked the court to find Crunch Pak in violation and order the company to get back into compliance.

It also wants the court to order the company to work with Columbia Riverkeeeper in developing the guidelines of its new stormwater permit.

Between 2013 to 2018 Crunch Pak had 42 benchmark exceedances, where there was too much of some kind of material, such as copper, in stormwater runoff, Ecology Spokesman Colleen Kentz said. Benchmark exceedances are not necessarily violations unless a company does not take corrective action.

Crunch Pak also had four violations for failing to submit reports on time and five violations for submitting discharge monitoring reports late between 2013 and 2018, Kentz said.