Department of Ecology News Release - May 5, 2014

Cleanup of Olympia City Hall site benefits community

OLYMPIA – The Washington Ecology Department announced today that the site where Olympia City Hall sits is cleaned up and will be removed from the agency’s hazardous sites list.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment,” said Rebecca Lawson, Ecology’s regional manager for the Toxics Cleanup Program. “The city stepped up to the plate and did a fantastic job taking the lead to clean it up for the benefit of the community.”

City Hall, at 601 4th Ave. E., occupies the site known as the Downtown Safeway cleanup site. When Olympia bought the property in 2007, the city’s investigations found soil and groundwater contaminated with pollutants including petroleum hydrocarbons, trichloroethylene (TCE), carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (cPAHs), and benzene.

The city cleaned up much of the site in 2008 and 2009 while building City Hall. Actions included:

In 2013, Olympia monitored groundwater for a year to ensure no contamination remained above cleanup levels. An environmental covenant now prohibits activities that would disturb the liner or contaminated soil in the Chestnut Street right-of-way.

“The Olympia City Council was committed to doing something good for the community,” said City Manager Steve Hall. “When we learned about the extent of the contamination, the council could have backed away from the property. Instead, they made a commitment to clean up this legacy contamination in downtown Olympia. We also owe a big thanks to Ecology for a sizable grant to help with cleanup costs.”

Ecology awarded the city about $3.8 million in remedial action grants to help it investigate and clean up the site. The grants are funded by a voter-approved tax on hazardous substances.

Past uses of the site beginning in the early 1900s included an automobile manufacturing and painting business, automobile repair shops, a gas station, and retail shops.

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Contacts:

Linda Kent, Ecology communications, 360-791-9830, @ecySW

Cathie Butler, Olympia communications manager, 360-753-8361