Department of Ecology News Release - June 23, 2015

Change to South Seattle site’s cleanup plan proposed
Comment sought on amended Burlington Environmental legal agreement

SEATTLE – A faster cleanup of contaminated groundwater in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood would occur under a proposed change to a legal agreement between the Washington Department of Ecology and the owner of a site that once housed a hazardous waste treatment and storage facility.

Ecology seeks public comment on an amendment to the 2010 cleanup action plan and related documents for the closed Burlington Environmental LLC facility at 734 S. Lucile St. near Airport Way South. Burlington Environmental is owned by PSC Environmental Services LLC, which in turn is owned by Stericycle Environmental Solutions Inc.

Before it closed in 2003, the facility released chemicals that contaminated groundwater on the property and to the west. One of the primary contaminants of concern is 1,4-dioxane, a liquid that was used to stabilize solvents that later became hazardous wastes. It can be toxic and cancer-causing to people. It is not related to dioxin, a pollutant with a similar-sounding name.

City-supplied drinking water is not affected by the groundwater contamination at the site.

Underground cleanup already in progress

A 1,600-foot underground barrier wall, completed in 2004, encircles most of Burlington’s property. The wall extends 50 to 90 feet below the ground to contain the site’s most highly contaminated underground water that otherwise would migrate west toward the Duwamish River. A groundwater recovery and treatment system operates inside the barrier wall.

Under the 2010 cleanup plan, Burlington Environmental has monitored concentrations of 1,4-dioxane west of the wall. The chemical was expected to naturally diminish to safe levels by this year, but the reductions have been slower than anticipated.

Faster cleanup proposed

Burlington Environmental would take two steps to speed the process under the proposed plan:

Other cleanup work moves forward

Other parts of the cleanup would continue under the 2010 plan. These include a future action to enhance the biodegradation of chemicals in groundwater inside the underground barrier and an ongoing program to protect indoor air quality in buildings affected by vapors that rise through the soil from the contaminated groundwater.

West of Fourth Avenue South, Burlington Environmental’s groundwater contamination mixes with similar pollutants from three other businesses. Together, the four parties are investigating cleanup options under a 2014 legal agreement with Ecology.

Controlling Duwamish Waterway pollution sources

The cleanup of the former Burlington Environmental Georgetown facility is located near the Lower Duwamish Waterway cleanup, jointly overseen by Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Cleanup of the Georgetown groundwater contamination will contribute to a larger effort to control sources of contamination in the Duwamish Valley.

Three items out for comment

Ecology seeks comment on the following documents:

Comments on these two items are due on July 21.

Separately, Ecology seeks comment on its periodic review of the Burlington Environmental site. A periodic review is conducted every five years on cleanup sites that must maintain special conditions. Findings from the 2015 review prompted the development of the amendment and revised cleanup plan. Comments on the periodic review are due on July 10.

Comments on all of these items should be sent to Ed Jones, Site Manager, Department of Ecology, 3190 160th Ave. SE, Bellevue WA 98008-5452 or Ed.Jones@ecy.wa.gov.

 Documents available locally and online

All documents are available at:

Contacts:

Larry Altose, Ecology communications, 425-649-7009, @EcySeattle

Ed Jones, Ecology Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program, 425-649-4449