Groups to Sue Over Massive and Illegal Pollution to Russian and Petaluma Rivers

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and the Petaluma River Council (PRC) have issued Notices of Violations and Intent to Sue to three waste disposal operations of the Ratto Group of Companies, Inc. for massive violations of the federal Clean Water Act and the California General Industrial Stormwater Permit. The facilities collect, process, reclaim and distribute scrap and waste materials.

Petaluma River Bend

Two of the facilities, Redwood Empire Disposal Sonoma County (3400 Standish Ave., Santa Rosa) and West Sonoma County Disposal Service (3417 Standish Ave., Santa Rosa) discharge stormwater pollutants to the Laguna de Santa Rosa and Russian River. The Novato Disposal Service (2543 Petaluma Blvd. So., Petaluma) discharges to the PetalumaRiver and San Francisco Bay. The Notices allege cumulatively over 4000 days of violations at the three facilities, with multiple violations reported on many days over the past five years.

All three facilities discharge stormwater with levels of oil and grease, pH, lead, iron, copper, zinc, aluminum, total suspended solids (TSS), and chemical and biochemical oxygen demand (COD, BOD) that far exceed applicable water quality standards. In addition, the disposal companies failed to: 1) prepare an adequate Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan; 2) implement an adequate monitoring and reporting program; 3) install management measures to reduce or prevent pollutants from entering waterways and 4) file true and correct annual reports.

“It is astonishing to find these pollutants in these concentrations being illegally discharged twenty years after the state and federal government implemented regulations controlling such discharges,” said CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings. “These are some of the most blatant violations we’ve found in fifteen years of enforcing the Clean Water Act and, as a result, CSPA is launching a stormwater permit enforcement campaign in Sonoma County,” he said.

David Keller, Executive Director of PRC said, “The Petaluma River and Marsh suffer from neglect and degraded water quality. They have been the focus of years of volunteer, city, county, state and federal efforts and money to clean them up for the restoration of fish and wildlife health, and for their recreational and economic vitality. The pollution of our treasured River and Marsh coming from the Novato Disposal Service yard in Petaluma must stop.”

CSPA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, preserving and enhancing the fisheries and associated aquatic and riparian ecosystems of California waterways. CSPA and its members actively participate in water rights and water quality processes, engage in education, research and restoration and vigorously enforce environmental laws enacted to protect fisheries and water quality. CSPA’s website is

PRC is an unincorporated organization of concerned citizens in the North Bay, committed to protecting and improving the health and character of the Petaluma River and Marsh and other North Coast watersheds and the surrounding environment.