Trustees Announce Completion of Natural Resource Restoration Projects for 2006 Diesel Spill in Pierce County, Washington

Last edited 09/25/2020

juvenile chinook salmon using restored habitat in Greenwater River
Juvenile chinook salmon (Oncorhychus tshawytscha), a federally threatened species, are shown utilizing engineered, logjam habitat created as part of the natural resource restoration project in the Greenwater River watershed, Pierce County, Washington. Photo credit: South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group.

On July 3, 2012, the federal, State and tribal natural resource trustees announced the completion of natural resource restoration projects for the November 3, 2006 diesel spill into Silver Creek in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, down slope from the Crystal Mountain Resort in Pierce County, Washington.

The natural resource trustees in this case include:

  • Muckleshoot Indian Tribe;
  • Puyallup Indian Tribe;
  • State of Washington, represented by Washington Department of Ecology and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife;
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, represented by U.S. Forest Service;
  • U.S. Department of Commerce, represented by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and,
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, represented by Bureau of Indian Affairs and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The diesel spill occurred on November 3, 2006, when the automatic shutoff valve on an above-ground storage tank at Puget Sound Energy’s Crystal Mountain Emergency Generator Station failed and the tank overfilled. An estimated 18,000 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled. Some of this spilled fuel traveled downhill into a drainage ditch and then into Silver Creek. The spilled fuel that entered Silver Creek likely discharged into White River.

Natural resources injured by the diesel spill include 14 acres of wetlands, 2 acres of riparian wetlands, 5 miles of riverine habitat, 350 acres of soil overlying groundwater, amphibians, aquatic insects, fish including two threatened species -- bull trout and chinook salmon -- and their habitats. The trustees settled natural resource damages claims against Puget Sound Energy, Inc. in a Consent Decree entered by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on February 12, 2009. The defendant agreed to pay $512,856.59 to restore natural resources injured by the diesel spill.

A publicly-reviewed Restoration Plan, prepared by the trustees, selected the restoration alternative that focuses on riverine habitat and chinook salmon restoration while also providing secondary benefits to other fish and wildlife species. This restoration alternative included two specific projects: Greenwater River floodplain restoration and Huckleberry Creek fish acclimation pond repair and improvements. Implementation of these projects is now complete.

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