On April 23, 2019, a federal judge allowed the State of Washington to intervene in a Clean Water Act citizen suit filed by Puget Soundkeeper and the Suquamish Tribe against the U.S. Navy. The dispute centers on the Navy’s cleaning of a decommissioned former aircraft carrier, the Ex-USS Independence, at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, near Bremerton, before towing the former carrier to Brownsville, Texas for dismantling.

The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is an existing Superfund site. According to the Attorney General’s office, the area does not meet standards for human recreation, fish consumption, or protection of aquatic life. During the most recent Five-Year Review of the site, EPA disagreed with the Navy’s determination that the remedy at one of the operable areas within the site was protective in the short term.

The State and the plaintiffs allege that the Navy scraped the 50 dump trucks’ worth of debris from the hull of the Ex-USS Independence while it was docked at the shipyard, without implementing any measures to control debris.  This debris may contain hazardous paint residue. The State based its decision to join the case on its review of sediment data before and after the Navy cleaned the hull. Like the plaintiffs, the State brings a claim under the Clean Water Act, but it also brings a claim under the Washington Pollution Control Act, which does not have a citizen suit provision. The case is Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. U.S. Department of the Navy, Case No. 3:17-cv-05458-RBL.

To read the full complaint, click here.