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Pollution feared at strawberry pier park site

Cleanup of a former fuel depot near Eagle Harbor spurs testing.

Contamination at a former fuel depot along Eagle Harbor may have spread to a city-owned park property, city officials say.

Nine years ago, ConocoPhillips voluntarily initiated a cleanup of petroleum deposits found on a one-acre property near the intersection of Shepard Way and Bromley Place, along the harbor’s northwest shore.

But the fuel company recently requested city permission to test portions of the nearby, publicly- owned “strawberry pier” property at the foot of Weaver Road, acquired in 2004 for use as a waterfront park.

ConocoPhillips officials this week decribed any leftover petroleum products as “residual.”

“Only residual amounts of petroleum hydrocarbon contamination remain on (the former fuel depot) site,” ConocoPhillips spokesman Jeff Callender said this week in a statement.

Contamination levels in much of the site’s soil are below the state Department of Ecology’s Model Toxic Control Act cleanup levels, “except along portions of the east and west property boundaries,” Callendar said.

ConocoPhillips offered no further explanation and did not return phone calls for additional details on the level of contamination along the property’s east and west boundaries.

A city planning staff member interprets Callendar’s comments to mean contamination near the strawberry pier property exceeds state environmental guidelines.

“It sounds to me like they’re exceeding regulation limits,” said city shoreline planner Peter Namtvedt Best.

Groundwater along the shoreline may also be at risk.

In its statement, Conoco said: “Groundwater concentrations are below MTCA Level A cleanup levels except in one on-site monitoring well, where concentrations of (diesel) continue to decline.”

Best interpreted this comment to mean diesel contamination in at least one well exceeds allowable limits.

“It sounds like they still have one hot spot in one of the monitoring wells,” he said.

The ConocoPhillips property was primarily used as a heating oil storage facility from 1970-97.

The site once housed two 10,000-gallon and two 4,000-gallon fuel storage tanks, a pumping station, an overhead loading rack, a drainage ditch and a retention pond.

The tanks and structures were removed in the late 1990s in conjunction with a series of environmental assessments and initiation of a cleanup program.

Somewhere between 200 and 600 tons of “impacted material” are estimated to remain on and off the site, according to Callendar.

While ConocoPhillips has not yet taken samples from neighboring properties, Callendar said “offsite impact is considered to be limited.”

ConocoPhillips plans to excavate and haul contaminated soil to an offsite treatment and disposal facility. The excavated area will then be backfilled with clean soil, according to Callender.

“ConocoPhillips is committed to addressing the environmental impact of our historical operations,” Callender said by email.

“We work diligently with the appropriate local, state and federal regulators to ensure that we are in compliance with applicable regulations governing the assessment and cleanup of sites where we used to – or still conduct – business.”

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