Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cleanup Settlement Account holds nearly $100 million for cleaning up contaminated sites

By Hannah Aoyagi, Environmental Planner, Toxics Cleanup Program
Over the past few years, the state of Washington has received $154.6 million in legal settlements from companies that polluted our environment.  So where has this money gone?
Fearing settlement funds would be siphoned off for unrelated programs, the Legislature took action.  A 2008 law created the Cleanup Settlement Account in the state treasury.  This account earns interest; and every two years, the Legislature provides Ecology with funding for cleanup and restoration projects.

A new legislative report details what Ecology is accomplishing with Cleanup Settlement Account funds.

The Asarco Settlement

In 2009, Asarco settled with the state $188 million for environmental damage from two smelters, four mines, and a landfill site.  A $19 million piece of the settlement paid taxpayers back for past cleanup costs.  The rest went into the Cleanup Settlement Account.  This funding has enabled Ecology to make major progress in cleaning up the following sites:

Drilling crew working on the Lilyblad site in Tacoma

Other Settlements and Payments

Lilyblad Petroleum Insurance Settlement – This Port of Tacoma area cleanup site was contaminated with petroleum and other chemicals.  Ecology received $800,000 from the owner’s insurance company to clean up soil and groundwater.

BNSF Skykomish Natural Resource Damage Settlement – BNSF Railway operations contaminated the town of Skykomish with petroleum and other chemicals, damaging nearby waterways.  A $5 million settlement is paying for habitat restoration and water quality projects.


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