Department of Ecology News Release - December 9, 2014

Agreement paves way for more Ridgefield cleanup

VANCOUVER – A legal agreement with the Port of Ridgefield will lead to more cleanup work near the former Pacific Wood Treating site in Clark County.

From 1996 to 2013, the port (the current site owner) removed 24,800 gallons of liquid contamination, 1.5 million pounds of contaminated sludge, and contamination from more than 144 million gallons of groundwater. The port also covered the property using two or more feet of clean soil.

The Washington Department of Ecology is seeking comments until Jan. 8, 2015, on an agreed order. That’s a legal agreement between Ecology and the port, which requires the port to test soil for dioxin contamination and to study cleanup options.

From 1964 to 1993, Pacific Wood Treating operated on port property at 111 W. Division St. in Ridgefield. The company treated wood products with toxic chemicals including creosote, pentachlorophenol and a mixture of copper, chromium and arsenic. Contamination from the company has been found in soil, groundwater and sediments on and off port property. In 1993, the company declared bankruptcy. Ecology and the port are now paying for the investigation and cleanup.

This summer, the port began cleaning up off-property areas, including a railroad overpass area, Carty Lake and Lake River. In Carty Lake and Lake River, the port has been removing sediments that were polluted with wood treating chemicals.

The port has found dioxins above state cleanup levels on some public land in the neighborhood east of the port property. Under the new agreed order, the port is developing a plan for sampling soil from yards in the neighborhood. The port will provide its proposed sampling plan to Ecology in January 2015. Dioxins can be formed during some industrial processes, like certain types of chemical manufacturing. They can also be formed during waste incineration and burning. This includes home burn barrels, fireplaces and wood stoves. Dioxins do not break down easily in the environment, and are found everywhere.

Most of the dioxins in off-property soil likely came from airborne dust while Pacific Wood Treating was operating. Dust may have blown off the port property, been tracked onto roads from truck tires, and come off trucks hauling treated wood on Division Street.

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Seth Preston, communications, 360-407-6848, @ecologyWA