News

EPA makes major advances in Wyckoff Superfund cleanup effort

For the Wyckoff/Eagle Harbor Superfund site, technology might be more than just the future. It might be a savior.

The Environmental Protection Agency released new information on the site this month that promises advanced technology will be used to clean the site for good.

Using more precise equipment, the agency has also reduced previously reported estimates of creosote contamination by more than half.

As late as 2011, the EPA reported approximately 1 million gallons of creosote remained in Eagle Harbor.

In the past year, however, surveyors have used what is called a TarGOST (Tar-specific Green Optical Scanning Tool) to conclude a more accurate estimate to be approximately 400,000 gallons.

Despite this, it’s not about how much is spilled, explained EPA’s Wyckoff project manager, Howard Orlean, at a public meeting earlier this month. It’s about how much there is now and how it can be cleaned up, he said.

With the TarGOST technology, the EPA will be able to divide the affected area into sections depending on their level of contamination. Each sector can then be prescribed a combination of technologies for cleaning.

The TarGOST is a laser probe attached to the end of a drill which is then inserted deep into the ground around Wyckoff beach. The laser scans the surrounding area and formulates a color-coded image that shows where the concentrated areas of creosote lie.

In this way, the probe detects the vertical volume of contamination and the amount of saturation.

Earlier this year, surveyors inserted 141 TarGOST probes within and outside the metal sheet pile wall that separates the core of the former Wyckoff facility from the surrounding beach area.

The probes showed contamination remains outside the sheet pile wall. The thickest infected areas are at the center of the site, at the former retort areas and to the east of the creosote block excavation area.

The probes showed little to no contamination lay deeper than 20 feet underground. Several probes were inserted up to 40 feet deep.

Over the next several months, the EPA will conduct a comparative analysis of the various cleanup options.

The possible technologies to be evaluated include removal and offsite disposal, solidification and stabilization of the pollution in the subsurface soil and treatment both in place and after removal.

Of these technologies are: “thermal enhanced extraction” which involves a below-ground steam injection; above-ground heating up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit; below-ground mixing with a Portland cement mixture; below-ground mixing with hydrogen peroxide or permanganate; or a below-ground injection of air.

Also, cleanup alternatives are to be developed for the eastern and north shoal of Bill Point.

These include targeted capping for active seeps; vertical sheet pile wall barriers with targeted capping; and partial creosote removal inside the current sheet pile containment by either dredging or dry excavation followed by capping the excavated area.

The EPA plans to propose a cleanup remedy involving a combination of these cleanup options by summer 2015.

The federal agency will hold an informal public meeting next spring to update residents on a comparison of cleanup methods. Following this, the EPA will conduct a “focused feasibility study” to identify the types of technologies that are appropriate for cleaning up creosote contamination in the center of the site, the periphery areas and at varying depths underground.

A draft of the study and a proposed plan will be completed late fall of 2014, followed by a 30-day public comment period. A public hearing will then be held to assist in selecting a cleanup strategy.

A final cleanup plan will be determined in late spring or early summer of 2015.

Those interested in learning more on the state of the cleanup, can participate in the EPA’s next public meeting to be held next spring. Additionally, the EPA and the state Department of Ecology have formed a community interest group made up of residents committed to communicating concerns, suggestions and interests to the EPA team. The group will meet quarterly with EPA and Ecology to discuss the project status.

Those interested in joining the group can contact Dawn Hooper at dhoo461@ecy.wa.gov or 360-407-7182.

 

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Nov 28
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates