The Kimberly-Clark mill’s toxic legacy

  • Fri May 4th, 2012 7:05pm
  • News

Reported by Bill Sheets / Herald Writer

Eighty years of pulp and paper manufacturing on Everett’s waterfront has left behind contaminated soil and sediment — on land and under the East Waterway of Port Gardner. The full extent of the pollution is not known, but the recent closure of Kimberly-Clark’s paper mill has set the stage for a closer look by the state Department of Ecology. The most noteworthy substance found so far is dioxin, which is thought to be a cause of cancer in humans. These 66 acres are for sale by Kimberly-Clark. Demolition could be under way by summer. The image at right is a guide to what’s on the site now.

Next steps

Kimberly-Clark plant site: Parts of the site were used by Standard Oil and Associated Oil for storage and distribution in the early and mid-20th century, before the plant was expanded. The degree of pollution is not known.

Kimberly-Clark has hired an environmental consultant to conduct an investigation of possible contamination on the site and will work with the state Department of Ecology on cleanup plans.

Some samples were taken in February, and some petroleum was found, according to the state. Kimberly-Clark plans to take another set of samples later this year. A cleanup plan could potentially be developed by 2013, officials said.

Parking lot south of Kimberly-Clark plant: This former Exxon-Mobil site is known to contain petroleum. Exxon-Mobil and American Distributing, two co-owners of the property, have already dug some contaminated soil to make way for the city of Everett to install a sewage overflow line.

More sampling will be done to determine the extent of the contamination. A report could be sent to the public for comment and a cleanup plan written by next year.

The property has multiple owners. The state has notified the companies that will have to pay for the cleanup, the cost of which is unknown. Exxon-Mobil, Chevron-Texaco, BNSF, American Distributing and Kimberly-Clark are listed as responsible parties.

Dioxin contamination in the East Waterway: The Department of Ecology plans to take more samples between the Kimberly-Clark plant and Naval Station Everett.

When that information is gathered and compiled, as soon as 2014, the state will create a cleanup plan. Cleanup would likely be done by dredging, and it’s uncertain how long that would take.

More about the Kimberly-Clark mill

The Last Smokestack: The Kimberly-Clark closure ends a chapter of Everett history. This Herald special report profiles the people who worked there.

Property offering through Kidder Mathews.

City of Everett land-use application for demolition.