Ecology plans cleanup at old mill site near Seafarers' park
The former Scott Paper Mill site just south of the Cap Sante Boat Haven is scheduled for a massive cleanup project by the Washington State Department of Ecology. The Port of Anacortes, which owns the north portion, MJB, which owns the south, and former Scott Paper owner Kimberly-Clark Corporations are working with Ecology to develop the remediation plan.

At two open houses last week, Washington State Department of Ecology representatives presented several alternatives for cleaning up the former Scott Paper Mill site and answered questions from residents that mostly focused on who's paying for the cleanup and the future use of the site.

Also joining Ecology staff at the Sept. 16 and 17 meetings at City Hall were representatives from the Port of Anacortes, which owns the north portion of the land, occupied by Seafarer's Memorial Park; MJB Properties, which owns the south portion and Kimberly-Clark Corporation, former owner of all the property between 17th and 20th streets and east of Q Avenue after it purchased Scott Paper's assets in 1995.

All are “potentially liable parties” of the property as designated by Ecology, which is to oversee the cleanup.

Contaminants found on the site through soil, groundwater and marine sampling includes arsenic, lead, mercury, zinc, petroleum hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, ammonia and wood debris.

Ecology presented several alternatives for remediation of the north and south property, and the combined marine area with varying amounts of soil excavated and disposed of at an approved site and dredging of some in-water areas. Both upland and in-water areas will be backfilled for habitat restoration and barriers, such as new breakwaters, put up to protect against future erosion of the shoreline.

Ecology's Toxics Cleanup Program manager Tim Nord explained that it was the state agency's job to oversee the cleanup, while the ultimate use of the land was up to the public and private owners.

Port Engineering Director Bob Elsner said the port will be able to use its property to develop a small craft launching facility that's included in the port's comprehensive plan as well as additional public access features.

Those paying for the project include all the responsible parties, Nord explained. It will be up to them to decide how the costs will be apportioned out. He admitted it's a complicated issue but will have to be worked out among them.

Ecology will make the final decision on which cleanup alternatives are best, considering costs, timelines and the needs of the community. In the end, the goal is to have the area protected from contaminants permanently, Nord said.

When we make these cleanup decisions, we think about not having to come back for more cleanup, he said. “We're intensively putting our resources to it so we get it as close to certain as possible.”

By February, Ecology intends to come out with a draft cleanup plan and hold more community meetings.

The project could begin as early as summer 2009.

The project is part of the Puget Sound Initiative that strives to create a healthy sustainable Puget Sound by 2020 by cleaning up contaminated waterfront and in-water sites.

A lumber mill operated on the Scott site from the late 1800s to the mid-1920s. From 1940 to 1955, the company operated numerous buildings, piers, boilers, fuel storage tanks, a smokestack and burners on the north portion of the property. The port purchased it in 1979 and divided it into three parcels in 1998. Sun Healthcare Systems bought one parcel.

In 1999, that company along with the port did an independent cleanup to remove petroleum contaminated soil and wood debris, according to Ecology. A 2-foot thick soil cover and soil containment wall along the shoreline was also installed.

On the south portion of the property, a pulp mill building was constructed in 1925. It used waste from the lumber mill and discharged waste water directly into the bay from 1925 to 1951. Scott Paper operated the mill from 1940 to 1978. The south portion was sold in 1979 and used for staging, a storage area and eventually modular home building by MJB.

Kathleen Goodman, a hydrogeologist working for MJB, said part of the property was cleaned up early on to remove wood waste and other materials to make the land more suitable for use. The property is now primarily vacant.

Other local projects done under the Puget Sound Initiative are the cleanup at the Cap Sante Boat Haven where 17,000 tons of soil contaminated from leaking fuel tanks was removed late last year, the abandoned Enchantress tugboat that is being removed from Fidalgo Bay this week, and the cleanup of contaminated sediments with the Dakota Creek Industries shipyard redevelopment project at the port's Pier 1. Ecology is working with the port to streamline the cleanup efforts on those projects.

Other Ecology projects in and around Fidalgo and Padilla bays also associated with the port or with Native American tribes and private land owners include:

• Tidal areas cleanup and marine habitat restoration of the former Pier 2 log pocket;

• Cleanup of the former Shell Oil tank farm on Q Avenue used today by the port for trailer boat parking (already this year in a joint project, the port and city rerouted a storm drain on the property between 13th and 14th streets to reduce the potential for storm water contaminating the bay);

• The former Custom Plywood mill site at the end of 34th Street where owner GBH Investments is working toward cleanup of petroleum products, beach and intertidal debris, creosote pilings and wood waste from historical use by the Anacortes Veneer Plywood mill as well as Custom Plywood;

• Cleanup of the old Whitmarsh Landfill east of March Point Road and next to Swinomish tribal lands; and

• The Samish Nation causeway project aimed at replacing the creosote pilings under the Tommy Thompson Parkway over Fidalgo Bay with a less contaminating material and reducing the size of the causeway.

Also as part of the initiative, a baywide study of sediment contamination was completed earlier this year.

Dioxin, a family of chemicals from various sources, was detected throughout the bay but at higher levels in the northern area along the shorelines of completed or scheduled cleanup sites, including the Scott Paper and Custom Plywood mill sites.

Chemicals, such as mercury, phthalates and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were detected above state standards primarily in northern Fidalgo Bay and along the Guemes Channel.

Evidence shows the area should be studied further for possible cleanup other than the major project in association with DCI's redevelopment.

The area south of the Tommy Thompson Trail causeway was less impacted than the northern and Guemes Channel areas and the area next to the March Point refineries piers had the least amount of impact.

Mill site cleanup project

For more information on the project and others under the Puget Sound Initiative, contact Washington State Department of Ecology natural resource scientist Sandra Caldwell at (360) 407-7209 or or visit Site investigation documents are also available at the Anacortes Public Library.

To submit comments on the Scott cleanup alternatives, send them to site manager Panjini Balaraju at WA Department of Ecology Toxics Cleanup Program, Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, (360) 407-6161 or Comments will be accepted through Sept. 30.

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