The Nisqually River

The Nisqually River flows on an early, spring morning near the 6th Avenue fishing and river access site.

On Dec. 10, Puget Soundkeeper reached a legal settlement to resolve a federal Clean Water Act case filed in September 2017 against LRI Landfill, a 168-acre, privately owned non-hazardous landfill within the Nisqually River watershed. 

The settlement requires LRI to pay $734,000 to fund third-party environmental grants in the vicinity of the Nisqually River watershed and areas impacted by illegal discharges of landfill fluid, oils and other contaminants caused by LRI’s failure to meet both industrial and construction stormwater permit standards, according to a press release from Puget Soundkeeper. 

Since the start of its construction in 1996, LRI has discharged stormwater to wetlands that lead to Muck Creek, also known as South Creek,  Nisqually River tributaries providing critical habitat for chum salmon, steelhead trout and sea-run cutthroat trout, according to the press release. 

Documented by the Washington Department of Ecology and Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, LRI’s list of violations also include failure to follow stormwater sampling guidelines.

High levels of toxic chemicals such as copper, zinc, lead and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in their discharged stormwater. Another violation was failure to install technological improvements to effectively control their water pollution.

The settlement reached with Puget Soundkeeper also requires LRI to comply fully with all clean water permits going forward; to install site improvements to prevent future leachate leaks; to install an advanced stormwater treatment system for both their industrial and construction stormwater discharge, and upgrade it if sampling data shows it’s needed; improved handling of auto shredder residue to prevent it from becoming a pollution source; and share permit compliance reports with Puget Soundkeeper to track changes outlined in the settlement. For a full list of settlement outcomes, visit

“LRI Landfill has a long and complicated history of disappointing community members with its poor pollution track record — and we hope that today marks a turning point for this facility,” said Katelyn Kinn, Puget Soundkeeper staff attorney. “Moving forward, LRI has the opportunity to work to become a better neighbor. We look forward to tracking their progress, and holding them accountable.” 

Puget Soundkeeper is an environmental non-profit with a mission to protect and preserve the waters of Puget Sound. Since 1984, Soundkeeper has filed over 200 legal actions, and all funds from successful settlements go to restoring polluted waterways in the region through the Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund. 

Puget Soundkeeper was represented in this matter by Claire Tonry, Richard Smith, Knoll Lowney, Katherine Brennan at Smith & Lowney PLLC and Kinn. 

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(1) comment

Donna Walters

We were warned this could happen ...

And it did . It is and will continue .

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