Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Monday that Electron Hydro, LLC and its Chief Operating Officer, Thom Fischer, have pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of operating an unlawful hydraulic project.
The Attorney General’s Office has recommended a $1 million fine, a restitution payment of $745,000 to protect the health of the Puyallup River and a $255,000 fine that would go to Pierce County. Fischer will also serve two years of probation, with 364 days in jail suspended.
In late July 2020, Fischer allowed its workers to place artificial turf and crumb rubber that contain toxic chemicals into the riverbed. Workers then diverted the river, which ripped the liner and caused toxic debris to flow into the Puyallup River for two weeks.
Charges against the company included violations of the state’s Water Pollution Control Act, Fish, and Wildlife Enforcement Code, Shoreline Management Act, and Pierce County Code. The $745,000 in restitution will be directed toward projects to improve the health of the Puyallup River and restore salmon habitat. Ferguson’s Office plans to work with the Puyallup Tribe to identify worthy projects. If approved by the judge, the Attorney General’s Office believes the $1 million would be the largest fine and restitution paid for an environmental crime in Washington state law history.