SEDRO-WOOLLEY — A cleanup project is underway at the SWIFT Center to address environmental contamination left behind over the years.
The SWIFT Center is on the former Northern State Hospital campus. The Port of Skagit assumed ownership of the property in 2018.
The cleanup project involves the excavation and removal of about 1,800 tons of soil from two areas. The areas will then be covered with clean fill and seeded with grass.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
“Earlier investigations identified elevated levels of arsenic and lead in shallow soils near the gymnasium field and in the field to the west of the Coleman building,” said Port of Skagit Director of Planning Heather Rogerson. “The Port was awarded grant funding from the U.S. EPA and the Washington Department of Ecology to address this contamination.”
The presence of arsenic and lead is likely from past use of pesticides and lead-based paints.
The area to the west of the Coleman building was the site of a hospital ward that is no longer there.
“This is all part of us taking care of the campus and getting it back in good condition, and it’s all part of the process of taking ownership of the property,” said Port of Skagit Communications Manager Linda Tyler. “We knew what we were getting ourselves into and continue to deal with some longtime issues from a hospital that first opened over 100 years ago and didn’t use the best practices.
“We want to continue to do our due diligence and handle these projects appropriately with our great partners.”
Future projects include cleaning up chlorinated solvents in soil and groundwater in the area of the former laundry building, and gasoline-range petroleum hydrocarbons in soil and groundwater in the area of the former maintenance building.
The petroleum hydrocarbon contamination is likely from underground storage tanks and a fuel pump island in the vicinity of the building.
In 2019, about 64 tons of petroleum contaminated soil were removed in the area of the former underground storage tanks.
“In 2018, (the Pollution Liability Insurance Agency) awarded the Port a PLIA-led grant in the amount of $224,400 for cleanup of this area,” Tyler said.
Removal of contaminated soil will also be necessary at the power house, the Trevennen and Denny buildings, and several other areas.