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Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. Cruise Terminals of America LLC

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20231
Nos. C14-0476 JCC, (W.D. Wash., 11/20/2015) (Coughenhour, J.)

A district court granted in part and denied in part cross-motions for summary judgment in a CWA citizen suit alleging a cruise ship terminal and port discharged industrial stormwater runoff and other pollutants into U.S. waters without a NPDES permit. The environmental group that initiated the lawsuit has standing, and its notice letters to the terminal and port were sufficient; motions to dismiss the case on these grounds were therefore denied. Yet several of the groups' claims could not be decided due to genuine disputes of material fact. Nevertheless, the court ruled that vessel-related activities may interface with stormwater if they create a discharge that falls on the cruise terminal; accordingly, these activities are not exempt from industrial stormwater general permit (ISGP) coverage even though they are already covered by another permit. However, the offloading of sewage from a vessel is exempt from ISGP coverage. The court also ruled that industrial activities, including vehicle maintenance activities, are ongoing at the cruise terminal, although they do not necessarily require an ISGP. And because the terminal and port exercise sufficient control over the terminal, both may be found liable for unpermitted discharges regardless of who is the facility's operator.