Thursday, September 19, 2019

Washington Dept. of Ecology, University of Washington to study groundwater contamination

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) recently proposed a legal agreement with the University of Washington (UW) to investigate and study several plumes of groundwater contamination left from industrial use of the land.

The UW Tacoma campus is in the area encompassed by the Union Depot Historic Warehouse District, which was the terminus of the transcontinental railroad and served as a rail commerce center for more than a century before the university was established on that location. The 46 acres that the campus occupies have also been previously used for dry cleaning, auto repair and manufacturing operations over the years.

When the UW Tacoma campus was under construction, workers found contaminated groundwater, with pollutants such as petroleum hydrocarbons, benzene, trichloroethene (TCE) and perchloroethene (PCE), which while not overtly harmful to human health at current levels present risks to public and environmental health at higher concentrations.

The proposed investigation would define the extent of the contamination. The agreement with UW would also allow the university to undertake approved interim remedial actions before a single mass cleanup plan is finalized.

Ecology is accepting public comments on the agreement until May 4. Any interim cleanup options will also be subject to a public comment period.

Organizations in this Story

Washington Department of Ecology

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