Port of Pasco to ask for end to active marine terminal cleanup efforts

Kristi Pihl, March 27, 2015, Tri-City Herald

The Port of Pasco will ask the state Department of Ecology to allow cleanup at the Pasco Marine Terminal to switch to natural means after the latest cleanup method proved ineffective.


That would allow the port to move forward with plans to redevelop the area between the blue bridge and railroad bridge, port commissioners were told Thursday.


Cleanup efforts have focused on about a quarter of the 55 acres east of the cable bridge at the former Columbia River terminal where petroleum products were unloaded and stored for about 50 years.


Crowley Maritime, the parent company of the main petroleum company that once used the terminal, is leading the cleanup effort, with the port that owns the land reviewing and approving the work.


A system that blew air into the groundwater and captured contaminants in air bubbles was determined to be no longer effective in 2011. A vacuum removed air from the soil so the contaminants could be treated.


The Department of Ecology asked the port to try another cleanup technology, which was tested last summer, said Gary Ballew, the port’s director of economic development and marketing. Holes were drilled in August for a high-pressure lance system that injected chemicals meant to break up the soil.


The goal was to make the soil more porous and to release any petroleum hydrocarbons stuck to soil, Ballew said. Then, materials meant to help speed up the natural breakdown of the hydrocarbons were injected.


The soil was tested before the test, immediately after the test, several months after the test and just recently, Ballew said. However, the breakdown of the petroleum hydrocarbons in the test area was no different than those outside the test area.


It’s likely the presence of clay and the tight soil composition prevented the technology from being effective, he said.


Based on the results, the port and consultant Golder Associates will recommend the Department of Ecology allow the cleanup to transition from active work to monitoring the natural breakdown of the contamination, Ballew said.


If the department agrees, the port would be able to redevelop the property, he said. The areas with remaining contaminants still will need to be monitored as the contaminants break down, and the redevelopment will have to be planned to take into account any areas of concern.


Some of the areas still considered hot spots could be where a developer paves a parking lot, Ballew said. That kind of an asphalt cap would be considered an enhancement of cleanup efforts.


The contamination that remains is minimal and is not moving around, Ballew said.


The partners have made a lot of progress on cleanup efforts and removed a significant amount of the contaminants, said Randy Hayden, the port’s executive director. Because of those efforts, some previously contaminated areas will not have restrictions on uses.


Port staff already have begun to plan for the redevelopment of the marine terminal. The port is working with consultant Maul Foster Alongi on a draft redevelopment plan, which is waiting on the results of cleanup efforts.


Ballew said port staff and consultants would reach out to members of the development community who redevelop previously contaminated sites.


Among the possible uses is a mix of light industrial, restaurants and retail. Examples include a food processor with a shop offering its products or a winery or a microbrewery with an attached restaurant. A variety of residential options, including a senior living center, also could be part of the redevelopment.


The port received a $200,000 state grant for redevelopment planning.


Cleanup and monitoring is estimated to cost about $10.8 million, based on a current projection of finishing in 2022, said Linda O’Brien, the port’s director of finance and administration. Attorney fees involved with the settlement agreements cost another $3 million.


Of that, Crowley is responsible for $6.8 million. The port has received $2.3 million in settlements from other companies potentially liable for the contamination and $1 million in insurance settlements. State grants also have covered $3.1 million so far. The port’s portion is about $77,000.

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