Monday, April 24, 2017

Comment period extended for Tacoma's Occidental Chemical site cleanup draft feasibility study

Public now has until June 26 to comment on proposed cleanup options

The public comment period on the draft feasibility study for Tacoma’s former Occidental Chemical site has been extended 60 days. Ecology will now accept feedback on the feasibility study until 5 p.m. Thursday, June 26. Public input will help Ecology decide whether or not to approve four documents related to the draft study, including:  

  • Draft agreed order – requires the company to perform tests, develop a monitoring plan, and submit a draft cleanup action plan.
  • Vapor intrusion memo and reports – details the vapor footprints below the former Occidental plant production area and solvent production settling ponds.
  • Corrective action permit – needed before cleanup work can begin at facilities that have treated, disposed of, or stored dangerous waste, such as Occidental.
  • Porewater sampling results – shows where contamination may enter the Hylebos.

There are hazardous substances in the groundwater, soil, and sediment
throughout the site. Contamination is from historical operations
and waste disposal practices.
These documents are found on the Occidental cleanup site page on Ecology’s website. Paper copies can be viewed at Ecology’s Southwest Regional Office, 300 Desmond Dr. SE, in Lacey; at the office of Citizens for a Healthy Bay, 535 Dock St., Suite 213, in Tacoma, or at the Kobetich Library, 212 Browns Point Blvd. NE, in Tacoma.

Comments on the study can be submitted via:

  • Phone - Call Ecology’s Kerry Graber,  360-407-0241
  • Email -
  • Mail - Southwest Regional Office, PO Box 47775 Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

A draft Cleanup Action Plan is expected after the study is approved. The action plan will set the cleanup methods and standards. It will be available for review and public comment before it is finalized.

Almost 100 people attended the March 8 open house and public hearing on the draft study. The Department of Ecology has already received many public comments that will help determine the location’s future.

There has been strong public interest in the cleanup work at the former chemical plant. The extensive data collected during the lengthy investigation yielded the draft remedial investigation summary. This summary, which identified the boundaries of the plume and the potential impacts of the contamination by evaluating data from groundwater, surface water, air and soil samples, also presented an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the findings before the draft study was finalized. This comment period was open from Oct. 23, 2015 through Feb. 2, 2016. The Remedial Investigation Responsiveness Summary chronicles the process to develop the draft study.

“Community input drove us to conduct more studies about risk to the public and impacts to wildlife, and to discard items in the report that do not meet Ecology’s or EPA’s standards,” Ecology’s Occidental Site Manager Kerry Graber.

Ecology reviewed and responded to comments on the draft investigation, which found soil, sediment and groundwater contaminated with a variety of hazardous substances.

By Dave Bennett, Southwest Region communications

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