OLYMPIA — Cleanup of the former Hardel Mutual Plywood plant site on West Bay Drive has been ruled complete by the state Department of Ecology.
Barring any surprises during a public comment period that runs through July 6, Ecology is prepared to take the waterfront property off the agency’s hazardous waste site list this summer.
“We’re done with the Hardel cleanup,” said Rebecca Lawson, regional manager for Ecology’s toxics cleanup program. “We don’t get to say that often.”
A case in point: Ecology still has eight other hazardous waste sites in various stages of cleanup in lower Budd Inlet.
The redevelopment of the Hardel site, which had been home to logging and lumber-related businesses from 1924 until a catastrophic fire in 1996, remains a question mark.
Hardel is likely to seek a buyer of the property for development at a time when the City of Olympia is mulling changes in its Shoreline Master Program, changes that could increase the amount of shoreline off limits to development at the Hardel site and other undeveloped waterfront properties in the city.
“It’s a matter of timing,” said Ken Anderson, president of Coldwell Banker-Evergreen Olympic Realty. “If a project isn’t permitted quickly, the proposed shoreline regulations could have a chilling effect on the property.”
During site cleanup that began in earnest in 2010, the contractor hired by Hardel removed 23,331 tons of soil tainted with heavy oil, diesel and polycyclic hydrocarbons and treated roughly 1.25 million gallons of groundwater.
Likely sources of pollution include past wood and fuel-burning on site, oil spills and leaky fuel tanks.
Budd Inlet was one of seven inlets and bays in Puget Sound tagged as high priority cleanup areas when Gov. Chris Gregoire and the state Legislature in 2007 set a goal of protecting and restoring the health of Puget Sound by 2020.
Hazardous waste sites within one-half mile of the shoreline received special attention in an effort to restore habitat and reduce the risk of pollutants traveling from the sites into Puget Sound.
“We’re making progress on all the sites in Budd Inlet, but it always takes longer than you would like,” Lawson said.
Following the cleanup, Hardel monitored groundwater wells on the property for one year and found no contaminants above cleanup levels. That’s what allows Ecology to call the cleanup project complete on 6.7 acres of uplands.
The company is not obligated to do any more study or cleanup on its 11.1 acres of tidelands because Ecology has ruled any pollution discovered there is not associated with Hardel operations, Ecology project manager Guy Barrett email@example.com 360-754-5444