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Cleanup plans are being proposed for a former landfill in Anacortes and are being drawn up for the city’s former water treatment plant along the Skagit River west of Mount Vernon.

The state Department of Ecology is accepting public comment through April 7 on a cleanup plan for the former March Point Landfill, also known as Whitmarsh Landfill.

The state agency is also taking public comment through April 14 on what is called a remedial investigation and feasibility study that describes the extent of contamination at the water treatment plant and the options for cleaning it up.

For the water treatment plant cleanup, Ecology has scheduled a digital open house for 4 p.m. March 23 that replaces an in-person meeting canceled amid the spread of the coronavirus.

THE WATERFRONT LANDFILL

Along the southwest shore of Padilla Bay — now designated a National Estuarine Research Reserve — a landfill operated from 1950 to 1973 and later a sawmill that closed in 2011.

While most of the wood waste from the sawmill was removed by 2015, chemical contaminants and landfill waste remain, according to Ecology. Contaminants include metals, chemicals associated with petroleum and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.

Skagit County, the state Department of Natural Resources, Shell Oil Co., and Texaco, Inc. are together responsible for cleaning it up.

After several years of completing studies, they have released a draft cleanup plan.

The plan includes excavating some of the landfill material, capping the remaining material with an impermeable material to prevent water from carrying contaminants into the bay, adding three feet of gravel and soil, installing stormwater controls and restoring shoreline habitat.

The site is one of nine on the Anacortes waterfront identified as needing cleanup. The landfill may be the seventh of the sites to reach the cleanup stage, potentially in 2022.

The draft cleanup plan and related documents are available at skagit.ws/Ecology-Landfill and the Anacortes Public Library, 1220 10th St.

Comments can be submitted online at skagit.ws/Ecology-Landfill-Comments2020 or by mail to Arianne Fernandez, Toxics Cleanup Program, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, 98504-7600

THE WATER TREATMENT PLANT

When making plans to demolish the old plant after a new plant was built in 2013, the city found the site to be contaminated with lead, arsenic, asbestos and PCBs, according to a city website. The city has since been working with Ecology to plan a cleanup.

The contamination has not impacted groundwater or drinking water, according to Anacortes and Ecology, but is in some building materials and in surrounding soil up to 12 inches deep.

It was not uncommon for lead, PCBs and other hazardous materials to be used in construction materials during the time the old water plant was built, in 1969 and 1970.

While the contamination levels are low, the PCBs must be addressed under the state’s Model Toxics Control Act. The city is responsible for cleaning up the site.

The draft feasibility study, completed in February, analyzes options of either conducting a partial removal of contaminated materials and capping the soil or fully removing contaminated soils from the site.

The more aggressive option was selected as the preferred alternative.

Estimated cost of the cleanup is $229,000. The city is eligible to be reimbursed for up to half that cost through the state Remedial Action Grant Program.

After the public comment period, the city and Ecology will finalize the feasibility study and develop a cleanup plan. Cleanup could take place in 2022.

More information is available at bit.ly/Ecology-AnacortesFWTP and at Anacortes City Hall, 904 Sixth St.

Comments can be submitted online at bit.ly/Ecology-AnacortesFWTP-Comments2020, by mail at Cris Matthews, Site Manager, Department of Ecology, 913 Squalicum Way, Unit 101, Bellingham, 98225 or by email Cris.Matthews@ecy.wa.gov

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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