Bainbridge property added to hazardous sites list

The former Unocal gas station property at the intersection of Olympic Drive and Winslow Way has earned a dubious recognition.

The one-acre lot, owned by the city and Kitsap Transit, was recently named to the state Department of Ecology’s Hazardous Site List as needing toxic chemical cleanup. The list ranks properties on a scale of one to five, with one being the most serious threat to human or environmental health. The Unocal property was listed as a two.

Seth Perkins, spokesperson for DOE’s Toxic Cleanup Program, said the listing helps the department prioritize a site’s state funding and cleanup work. Perkins said the state can step in and require owners to complete cleanup work but the decision is made on a site-by-site basis.

The Kitsap County Health District’s department of environmental health completed the study that landed the Unocal property on the Hazardous Site List.

Its analysis said that benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylenes, and hydrocarbons from gasoline and diesel exceeding state cleanup standards for groundwater had been found in samples taken from the site between 1993 and 2005. It noted that the property is bordered by a steep ravine and creek, and is located 375 feet upland from Eagle Harbor.

The property, now barricaded by a fence plastered with community banners, was once a Union 76 gas station operated by Unocal from 1957 to 1989.

After the station closed, Unocal removed fuel tanks from the site and demolished its buildings in 1991. The company later removed and replaced 6,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil, digging down to 15 feet but leaving some contaminated soaked soils buried deeper. In 2002 Unocal entered the property in DOE’s voluntary cleanup program and in 2003 DOE informed Unocal that the site needed further remedial action.

The city and Kitsap Transit purchased the property in 2005; the city with an eye on new park space and Transit considering future traffic improvements. The property was removed from the voluntary cleanup program at after the sale, according the Health District.

City Public Works Director Randy Witt said the two agencies are continuing a clean-up plan developed by Unocal. The site is being monitored and allowed to sit idle.

Witt said the city has not received official notice from the Department of Ecology regarding the Hazardous Site listing.

“Were not sure yet if this changes that (cleanup) plan,” Witt said.

Kitsap Transit Executive Director Dick Hayes said he was “mystified” as to why the site had been listed by the state when the Transit and the city were already following a remedial plan.

“I think everyone is happy with the cleanup we are trying to do,” Hayes said.

The Unocal property joins three other sites on Bainbridge already on the list.

The Bainbridge landfill is listed with a level one ranking. According to the DOE remedial action has already been taken at the site and monitoring is under way.

A site at the Day Road industrial park and a site at Madison Avenue and Parfitt Way are also listed.

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