Ferndale Grain reaches settlement over environmental lawsuit


The owner of Ferndale Grain has settled a lawsuit filed by two environmental groups over the 3rd Avenue plant’s stormwater discharges into Schell Creek, which they said violated the Clean Water Act.

Cargill Animal Nutrition, the owner, signed an agreement Friday with Seattle-based Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and Bellingham-based RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, which sued the company in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Cargill has its headquarters in Minnesota.

As part of the settlement, Cargill agreed to reduce the amount of zinc in runoff from its facility by expanding and upgrading its stormwater treatment systems, according to the environmental organizations.

Most of the runoff flows into Schell Creek, which is a tributary of the Lummi River.

Zinc, a heavy metal, can harm fish and people.

Cargill also will make sure copper, oil and fecal coliform levels in runoff don’t exceed what is allowed under a state Department of Ecology stormwater discharge permit, according to the settlement.

Other provisions of the agreement include a $70,000 payment for environmental restoration projects for the Puget Sound/Salish Sea, which will be administered by the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment.

Cargill told the Capital Press that it was in everyone’s interest to settle and that it would continue to work with the City of Ferndale and Ecology to comply with stormwater rules.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea