Washington State Department of Ecology - July 2, 2013

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Major cleanup starts soon at old Anacortes waterfront mill

OLYMPIA – Contaminated sediments and old, toxics-leaching pilings will be pulled from Fidalgo Bay starting in mid-July.

Crews are preparing for dredging and other work at the former Custom Plywood mill site in Anacortes. The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is overseeing the project, which is the latest part of a major cleanup and restoration of Fidalgo Bay’s shoreline and ecosystem. This summer and fall, workers will:

Work is expected to wrap up by the end of October.

"The Custom Plywood project will reduce pollution and restore the marine habitat and shore of Fidalgo Bay. That’s good for the local ecosystem, plus it’s a win for the health of the greater Puget Sound," said Ecology site manager Hun Seak Park.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 13 and 14, Ecology staff members will be available to talk with interested people at Rotary Park on the Tommy Thompson Trail. The park is next to the Custom Plywood site off 35th Street and V Avenue.

"The cleanup work also could help spur more future economic development opportunities at a major piece of industrial/commercial land on the Anacortes waterfront," Park noted.

Current site owner GBH Investments LLC already is using the property’s upland portion to store boats.

The site was home at various times to a sawmill, a wood box factory and a plywood mill. Fire destroyed the closed Custom Plywood mill in 1992.

Later investigations showed the site’s soil contained elevated concentrations of heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, dioxins, and furans. Groundwater beneath the site also contained elevated levels of arsenic, copper, and nickel.

In 2011, work crews removed pilings, other structures and mill debris from the 6-acre upland portion of the site. They dug up and disposed of about 33,600 tons of contaminated soil, which they replaced with about 39,000 tons of clean soil. They also created a wetland.

Ecology’s cleanup contractor, Orion Marine Contractors Inc. of Tacoma, and its subcontractors expect to employ about 25 workers daily on the project. Typically, cleanup workers provide a boost to the local economy because they spend money on food, fuel, lodging, and other goods and services in the community where they’re employed.

In addition, economic estimates show that every cleanup dollar that is spent creates:

The Custom Plywood property is one of several Anacortes-area sites being cleaned up under the Puget Sound Initiative. That’s an effort by local, tribal, state, and federal governments; business, agricultural, and environmental communities; scientists, and the public to restore and protect the health of the Sound. An Ecology team is working with the Port of Anacortes, the city of Anacortes, site owners, area tribes, and other stakeholders to help shape cleanups at those sites.

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Media Contacts:

Seth Preston, Ecology media relations, 360-407-6848; 360-584-5744 (mobile); seth.preston@ecy.wa.gov

Sandra Caldwell, Ecology Toxics Cleanup Program, 360-407-7209; sandra.caldwell@ecy.wa.gov

For more information:

Custom Plywood web page (https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=4533)

Puget Sound Initiative (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites_brochure/psi/overview/psi_baywide.html)

Fidalgo Bay sites (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites_brochure/psi/anacortes/psi_anacortes_bay.html)

Toxics Cleanup Program (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/cleanup.html)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)