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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Orange says opponent’s oil spill claim is false

State records show spill occurred years before he bought business

By Jake Thomas, Columbian political reporter
Published: October 27, 2017, 5:52pm
2 Photos
Don Orange, left, and Kris Greene, both candidates for Port of Vancouver commissioner, speak to members of the editorial board at The Columbian in September.
Don Orange, left, and Kris Greene, both candidates for Port of Vancouver commissioner, speak to members of the editorial board at The Columbian in September. Amanda Cowan/The Columbian Photo Gallery

Port of Vancouver commissioner candidate Don Orange said he’s filed a cease-and-desist order against his opponent for making what he says is a false claim that his automotive business was cited by state and federal authorities for spilling up to 1,000 gallons of toxic oil.

A flier circulated earlier this week by Kris Greene’s campaign for port commissioner claims that the alleged pollution caused by Orange’s business runs contrary to his professed concern for the environment and opposition to a proposed oil terminal at the port.

“Don Orange promotes environmental protection, yet his automotive business was cited by state and federal authorities for toxic oil spillage of up to 1,000 gallons resulting in severe environmental contamination,” reads the flier. “It does not appear this toxic spillage was ever cleaned up.”

Orange called the claims made in the flier “a lie.”

He said that the contamination happened before he purchased Hoesly Eco Automotive from the Hoesly family in 2008. He said that the company had a leaking underground storage tank that had been used to store waste oil in the 1990s. Orange said the tank was removed and the site cleaned up before he took ownership of the business.

Information from the Washington State Department of Ecology supports Orange’s statement.

An email from Ecology spokesman David Bennett said the tank was removed in 2001, the contaminated soil was excavated and the company submitted a report confirming that sampling results showing the facility was in compliance with state pollution law.

A field report dated April 16, 2001, detailed the process: “One 1,000-gallon waste oil tank was removed in 2001. After removal, soil showed signs of contamination. Hole was founding the bottom of the tank. Five soil samples were taken at the time and TPH results were very high. They were also sampled for PCBs, VOCs and RCRA Metals and nothing was detected. Overexcavation took place at a later date and five contamination samples were taken and analyzed using NWTPD-Dx — there were no detections. Groundwater was not encountered during excavation activities. 97 tons of PCS was removed during the process.”

Later review

When contacted for comment on the differing accounts, the Greene campaign maintained its claim.

“Anyone who works with petroleum products must be held to the highest standard,” reads a statement from the Greene campaign via email. “Our campaign understands that the initial contamination violation was issued before Don Orange purchased Hoesly Auto, but the investigation and cleanup was ongoing for years both before and after he took over the business.”

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The Greene campaign’s statement says that public records don’t show any activity on the site until 2011, when a new investigation of the property was started, which was closed in summer of 2012. The statement also references a 2006 Army Corps of Engineers report that they say indicates clean-up at the site had not been finished.

“It appeared from the records we saw that the contamination at his business location had not been cleaned up by Mr. Orange until years after he operated the site,” reads the statement.

According to Bennett’s email, however, that 2011 investigation was a review of previously completed work. He wrote that in 2011, Ecology hired a consultant to review the report for the site, and others similar to it.

In 2012, Ecology, based on the consultant’s review, determined that no further action was required for the site. Ecology could not determine how much oil had leaked from the tank before the leak was detected and the site was cleaned up in 2001, but no violation or penalty was issued by the department or any other agency over the leak, according to Bennett.

Orange’s campaign further provided a 2012 letter from Ecology to Orange’s company relating to that 2012 determination that said the last documents in the oil tank leak case file were dated Oct. 2, 2001. The letter concluded that the facility had “met the substantive requirements for cleanup under the Model Toxics Control Act” and that “no further remedial action is necessary at the site.”

Orange said that his company does business as Hoesly Eco Automotive, though the business is legally owned by D M Orange LLC. The company was formed in September 2008, according to the Secretary of State’s website. According to the Clark County Assessor’s Office website, D M Orange LLC purchased the property the shop is located on from the Hoeslys in November 2010.

Orange said he runs a green business and he’s never been fined or cited by a federal or state agency for violating environmental laws or regulations. He said he is unaware of the Army Corps report referenced by the Greene campaign.

Additionally, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Suzanne Skadowski, wrote in an email that, “As far as we can tell, we’ve had no compliance or enforcement activity or related records of activity there.”

Columbian political reporter