Boeing Fabrication Auburn Plant

Interim Action Results   en español

Building 17-05 Source Area Interim Action Cleanup

What is an Interim Action?

In some instances, Ecology may require a partial cleanup of a site to reduce potential impacts to human health or the environment from unsafe concentrations of a hazardous substance. This is called an Interim Action. Ecology seeks public comment on proposed Interim Action plans before authorizing the work.

What was discovered at Building 17-05?

In 1994, Boeing discovered that cleaning solvent used in the aircraft parts manufacturing process may have leaked into the ground at Building 17-05, and notified Ecology. The company made this discovery while decommissioning a concrete containment pit in the building’s floor. The solvent may have leaked through deteriorated concrete into the underlying soil and groundwater. Boeing collected water samples from wells in and near this location on the company’s property and found elevated concentrations of TCE.

What action did Ecology require?

The Boeing Auburn Remedial Investigation began in 2002. The data from the 1990s, combined with newer findings, showed that groundwater at Building 17-05 had very high concentrations of TCE, up to 1000 times greater than the state cleanup standard. Ecology determined that Boeing must complete an Interim Action to lower these concentrations below state standards, and to remove the site as a potential source of groundwater contamination. In 2004, Ecology directed Boeing to prepare an Interim Action plan requiring a public comment period before authorizing Boeing to proceed.

How was the Interim Action cleanup performed?

Ecology approved Boeing’s use of bioremediation to conduct the cleanup. Boeing injected a nutrient mixture of vegetable oil and sugar into the groundwater. This prompted the rapid growth of naturally occurring bacteria that live in soil, consume TCE and (at the end of the bioremediation) break it down into simpler, non-toxic chemicals. This process took about one year to complete.

Did it work?

The Interim Action succeeded. At the location of the release (called the source area), bioremediation lowered the concentrations of all chemicals related to TCE in groundwater to federal drinking water standards and to the most conservative state standards at the time. Since then, the Interim Action monitoring shows that TCE and its breakdown products remain below levels of concern at the source area.


For more information about the Interim Action, please review these documents: