Department of Ecology News Release - October 11, 2012

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Ecology extends comment period on proposed changes to standards for cleaning up in-water sediments

OLYMPIA – The public has two additional weeks to review and comment on draft rule changes to the state’s Sediment Management Standards (SMS) for cleaning up contaminated in-water sediments.

The current public comment period started Aug. 15, 2012, and was slated to end Oct. 15. But the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is extending the end date to Oct. 29 in response to requests for more time to comment. 

In 1991, Ecology adopted the SMS rule to guide management of sediments. The SMS rule is used to conduct environmental cleanup work, manage the dredging of sediment for navigation and cleanup, and manage sources of contamination to sediment from dischargers.

The proposed changes will clarify requirements for cleanup of contaminated sediment sites to make the cleanup process more effective. They include:

The proposed changes do not include a revised fish consumption rate for sediment cleanup projects. Ecology heard a number of concerns about identifying a specific rate, including questions about how it could impact a separate process to update water quality standards.

After reviewing public comments, Ecology decided to clarify current requirements that specify that site-specific cleanups are designed using a “reasonable maximum exposure” standard. This is based on protecting Washingtonians who eat large quantities of fish, which in turn will protect all those who eat fish from Washington waters.

Ecology now is accepting public comments through Oct. 29. Ecology recently held public hearings on the proposed changes in Seattle, Bellingham, Lacey, Spokane Valley, and Richland.

Here’s where you can view the proposed rule changes:

Here’s how you can submit comments:

Ecology will review, consider and respond to all comments. The proposed changes may be modified based on public comments. Ecology expects to adopt the rule in late 2012 or early 2013.

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Media Contact: Seth Preston, Ecology communications manager, 360-584-5744 cell; seth.preston@ecy.wa.gov

Sediment Management Standards webpage (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/regs/2011-SMS/2011-SMS-hp.html)