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Association to Protect Hammersley, Eld, and Totten Inlets v. Taylor Resources, Inc.

299 F.3d 1007 (2002)

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Association to Protect Hammersley, Eld, and Totten Inlets v. Taylor Resources, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

299 F.3d 1007 (2002)

Facts

Taylor Resources Inc. (Taylor) (defendant) ran two mussel-harvesting facilities in Totten Inlet of Puget Sound, Washington. Taylor attached mussel “seeds” to suspension ropes that hung from floating rafts, and the mussels then grew without any help from Taylor by feeding on nutrients naturally found in Puget Sound. As they grew, the tiny mussels produced and released particulate matter, feces, and other byproducts of their metabolic processes, like ammonia. At the same time, the mussels’ biological processes filtered the seawater. Sometimes mussels could become separated from their shells. For its mussel-harvesting facilities, Taylor had attempted to apply for a permit from Washington’s Department of Ecology (the department), which administered the Clean Water Act (CWA) in the state, but the department would not accept Taylor’s application, believing that a permit was not required. The department opined that shellfish farmers did not have to add fish food to the water for shellfish to grow and accordingly did not pollute the water. The Association to Protect Hammersley, Eld, and Totten Inlets (the association) (plaintiff) sued Taylor in district court alleging violations of the CWA based on discharged “pollutants” from Taylor’s mussel-harvesting facilities. The district court granted summary judgment to Taylor, and the association appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gould, J.)

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