Public comment is now open on a proposal to remove protections at the Grays Harbor Seaport site that were incorrectly placed.
The Department of Ecology is inviting residents to comment on an Agreed Order, Public Participation Plan, and a proposal to remove an environmental covenant for the former Weyerhaeuser sawmill site. They say that in April 1998, Weyerhaeuser and DOE placed a covenant on the site, but it was placed upon the wrong tax parcel and is “not adequate to protect human life and the environment”.
“The environmental covenant, which restricts access to soil and groundwater, was placed on the wrong parcel in the 1990s after cleanup was done on part of the site. GHHSA proposes to remove the covenant and clean up the site so there will be unrestricted land use. If needed, a new covenant will be placed as part of the CAP.”
According to documents in the proposal, the sawmill referred to as the “Big Mill” was built on pilings and decking over the tidelands in 1924, and after the mill was closed in 2006 it was removed from the site along with the pilings and decking.
In 2010, an Environmental Site Assessment states that in 1993, an underground storage tank was removed from the site and approximately 45 cubic yards of soil were removed that contained 1,300 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of diesel, 3,300 mg/kg of heavy oil, and 520 mg/kg of gasoline. No benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene or toluene was detected.
“Water from the excavation pit contained 5,400 milligrams per liter (mg/l) of petroleum hydrocarbons. The tank pit was filled in without further excavation to allow construction of a new machine shop to proceed. Historic records indicate up to five other underground storage tanks were present on the property, but their locations or condition have not been confirmed.”
The Site Assessment also states that in 1989, Weyerhaeuser removed an underground tank that had been used for collecting paint wastes and associated wastewater.
“At the time of the excavation, groundwater seeping into the excavation pit contained up to 300 micrograms per liter (μg/l) 1,1,1 trichloroethane and visible hydraulic or lube oil.”
They say that a voluntary cleanup was performed by Weyerhaeuser to remediate soils and groundwater contaminated with pentachlorophenol and approximately 522 tons of contaminated coil was was removed. They say that groundwater contamination was localized and not moving toward the river.
“Soil contamination was left in place where excavation would compromise building foundations or where soil could not be accessed because it was under buildings.“
Following these actions, a restrictive covenant was put in place that required the property to be used only for industrial uses, prohibiting groundwater to be taken for any purpose, and prohibiting any activities to take place at the property which could interfere with the remedial action or that may result in a release or exposure of contaminants. A No Further Action Letter for the cleanup was issued by Ecology in 1999.
In 2014, based on discovery of previously unknown contamination at the site, Ecology rescinded the NFA status and reopened the site for further cleanup.
Under the current proposal, GHHSA would be allowed to continue cleanup on the site and pursue continued improvements to Seaport Landing.
The public comment period is from February 4 to March 5, 2019. Feel free to submit comments using the online form at the following link:
Copies of the documents associated with the site are available online at the Weyerhaeuser Sawmill Aberdeen website and at these document repositories:
- Aberdeen Timberland Library – 1221 E Market St, Aberdeen, WA (360) 533-2360
- Department of Ecology SWRO Toxics Cleanup Program – 300 Desmond Drive SE Lacey, WA. Please call (360) 407-6365 for an appointment or [email protected].
For questions regarding the cleanup, please contact Cleanup Project Manager, Tom Middleton at [email protected] or (360) 690-7263.
If you have questions about public involvement, contact [email protected] or (360) 407-6255.