Washington State Department of Ecology - July 12, 2013

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Comments sought on on cleanup plans for low-level radiation at Magnuson Park; Public meeting set for July 18

BELLEVUE – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) requests public review and comment on U.S. Navy studies and cleanup plans for removing low-level radiation in isolated locations at Magnuson Park in Seattle.

Several tests, including separate previous tests this year by Navy and Washington State Department of Health (DOH) radiation specialists, have detected no radiation other than background levels in indoor or outdoor areas open to the public at Buildings 2 and 27 (Arena Sports).

Magnuson Park occupies part of the former Sand Point Naval Air Station, transferred to the city of Seattle between 1998 and 2002. Under a legal agreement between the city, the Navy and Ecology, all areas opened for park use first underwent tests for pollution and hazardous materials. The Navy conducted environmental cleanups at its expense, overseen by Ecology, under Washington’s cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA).

In 2009, city staff, researching the history of areas not yet open for park use, found records that the Navy maintained aircraft instrument dials in parts of Buildings 2 and 27, which are former hangars. From the late 1930s through the 1950s, the dial faces contained radium, a radioactive material used to make dials visible in the dark. Workers touched up the dials with radium paint in rooms adjoining two aircraft hangars.

The Navy assessed these rooms and sought out other affected areas, finding radiation in abandoned drain lines and pockets of soil below the ground under and near the two buildings. The rooms, which had already been locked, remained so, pending cleanup. As a further precaution, outdoor areas over the affected drain lines and underground soils were fenced off.

While radium can emit a radioactive gas called radon that can build up in indoor areas, repeated tests have found no signs of radon in Building 27’s former instrument workrooms or adjoining hangar area, which today is an indoor sports center.

Ecology seeks comment on four documents. Three are Navy reports on its assessment of the contaminated areas and its cleanup plans:

Ecology will determine whether the Navy reports and plans comply with MTCA, with assistance from the state health department’s Office of Radiation Protection.

The fourth document is Ecology’s draft Public Participation Plan to ensure that people receive timely information and provide input about the cleanup process.

Ecology’s 45-day comment period will end on August 31, 2013. Please send comments to Ching-Pi Wang, Ecology site manger, at:

Ecology will hold a public meeting on the contamination and cleanup on July 18, 2013, at The Mountaineers building at Magnuson Park, 7700 Sand Point Way NE in Seattle:
Representatives of the state departments of Ecology and Health, Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Navy will be available to answer questions throughout the session.

Further soil assessment and arrival of equipment to be used during cleanup were slated to begin after July 8, 2013. Indoor cleanups in Building 2 and the removal of the south shed of Building 27 – where radium dial work occurred – will begin in August. Outdoor area cleanups will begin in September. The entire cleanup is scheduled to take approximately six months.

These websites provide additional information on the site and the cleanup process, as well as access to the documents on which Ecology seeks comment.

Documents also are available at:

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Media Contact:

Larry Altose Kent, Ecology media relations, 425-649-7009, larry.altose@ecy.wa.gov
Ching-Pi Wang, Ecology cleanup site manager, 425-649-7134, ching-pi.wang@ecy.wa.gov
Dewey Potter, Seattle Parks and Recreation communications manager, 206-684-7241, dewey.potter@seattle.gov
Donn Moyer, Department of Health, 360-236-4076, donn.moyer@doh.wa.gov
Leslie Yuenger, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Navy, 360-396-6387, leslie.yuenger@navy.mil

For more information:

Washington Department of Ecology (https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=1359)

Washington Department of Health (www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Radiation/MagnusonParkCleanupSeattle.aspx)

City of Seattle (http://www.seattle.gov/parks/magnuson/)

U.S. Navy (https://portal.navfac.navy.mil/portal/page/portal/navfac/navfac_ww_pp/navfac_efanw_pp)

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