Grant allows Everett to make list of which polluted areas to clean

  • Fri Mar 14th, 2014 8:24pm
  • News

By Bill Sheets Herald Writer

EVERETT — There are more than 1,000 places in Everett where gas stations, dry cleaners, auto repair shops or other small industries operated in the years when environmental rules were not as strict as they are today.

Oil, gasoline and chemicals at such businesses were not handled as carefully as they are now, Everett planning director Allan Giffen said. Most of those parcels are believed to contain some level of pollution.

Everett now has a federal grant to determine which of the parcels should be the first to be cleaned up.

The list will be made with an eye toward which parcels are most ripe to be redeveloped for the good of the city’s economy, Giffen said.

“By cleaning them up, we would give (property owners) an incentive for redevelopment,” he said.

The $400,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will pay only for combing the state’s database of more than 1,000 sites, testing the soil and establishing priorities — not for the cleanup itself.

That money will have to come from an inspired developer or possibly the government, Giffen said.

Making the list would likely move a parcel up the ladder for potential grant funding, he said.

The work will determine the level of pollution and in turn provide an idea of the cleanup cost.

The assessment phase is expected to take three years.

The sites are not yet mapped — that’s part of the work, Giffen said. He said some parcels are downtown, near Everett Station, near Port Gardner and along the river.

“Many of the impacted properties are areas we hope to redevelop, but the unknown cleanup costs make it difficult for owners to plan for new uses,” Mayor Ray Stephanson said in a written statement.

Stantec, an international consulting firm with an office in Bellevue, has been hired to map and assess the sites, working with the city and a 15-member advisory panel.

The Brownfield Advisory Committee is made up of officials from the city, the Port of Everett, Snohomish County, the Snohomish Health District, the state Department of Ecology and representatives from businesses, neighborhoods and environmental groups.

“Most any site can be cleaned up, it’s just a matter of having the resources to do it,” said committee member Mike Young, senior environmental health specialist for the Snohomish Health District.

Pollution from most of the larger industrial sources through Everett’s history, such as the Asarco smelter, the 1984 tire fire and locations on the waterfront has been cleaned up or is on a list to be addressed.

The “brownfields” to be studied generally are smaller and less likely to make a cleanup funding list.

It’s likely that they run the spectrum of uses, “from vacant to actively used for some other purpose,” Giffen said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; bsheets@heraldnet.com.

More about the project

For more information about the brownfields survey, go to tinyurl.com/BrownfieldsGrant or call 425-257-8731.