2 UW sites said to be contaminated
Portions of the two Everett sites named finalists for a University of Washington branch campus need environmental cleanup after years of...
Times Snohomish County Bureau
Portions of the two Everett sites named finalists for a University of Washington branch campus need environmental cleanup after years of industrial use.
How costly that might be, how long the mitigation might take and whether it could affect the properties' chances to be come home to a future college aren't yet known.
State leaders say they found "no fatal flaws" in the four finalists, based on preliminary reviews of size and development restrictions.
"I believe it is common knowledge that one or both Everett sites may require some form of environmental remediation," said Martin Regge of the Seattle architecture firm NBBJ, which is overseeing the college-site evaluation. "We're still studying the issue and cannot conclude much beyond that for now."
Backers of a competing site in Marysville called attention to the Everett sites' listing under the state Department of Ecology's Toxics Cleanup Program's "Confirmed and Suspected Contaminated Sites" in a flyer produced for the Everett town-hall meeting on the proposed college Oct. 3.
City leaders say the costs to develop the Everett sites — including potential environmental-cleanup costs — are competitive with the other finalists, a 394-acre site in North Marysville and a 98-acre parcel near Lake Stevens.
But advocates for the Marysville site say the cleanup costs, delays and public-health issues at the Everett locations could be significant.
"We have concerns about these being on the state list of contaminated sites. Is it really the appropriate place to put a college campus when there are clean and buildable sites available?" asked Charla Neuman, a spokeswoman for Strategies 360, the lobbying firm retained by the city of Marysville.
One of the Everett finalists, 90 acres along the Snohomish River just east of Highway 2, was the site of a sawmill that operated from 1907 through 1984. Everett city officials say the purchase agreement with Kimberly-Clark in 2005 included environmental cleanup.
The city submitted an environmental-action plan to the state in September and is awaiting approval.
"We'll jointly fund whatever cleanup is necessary," said Pat McLain, Everett's director of government relations.
Wood preservatives that contained PCP were used over 25 years at the sawmill and have contaminated the soil and groundwater, said Larry Altose, spokesman for Ecology. He said that the PCP present in the petroleum products have polluted the soil and groundwater.
Everett officials estimate that it would cost about $600,000 to clean up the site for industrial uses. The city has proposed trucking away contaminated soils and adding some fill material. But to be used as a college campus, the site would require a higher level of cleanup, Altose said.
The second Everett site, 31 acres around Everett Station, includes five properties that have been used for industry and are designated for cleanup by Ecology.
McLain said 10 of the 31 acres have already been cleaned of heavy petroleum and one lead "hot spot." He said the area is now suitable for residential uses. He said the city doesn't know the extent of the cleanup that might be necessary on the remaining land or the potential cost.
Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said the existing infrastructure to support a college including utilities and public transportation is in place at the Everett sites but would have to be built for the Marysville and Lake Stevens sites.
The governor's office announced in September that four sites had been selected from among 84 submitted by cities and property owners as potential locations for a UW branch campus to serve North Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties.
The 2007 Legislature appropriated $4 million for an academic plan and recommendations for a site for the new college. A report is due to the Legislature Nov. 15.
Lynn Thompson: 425-745-7807 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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