Underground wall to contain pollution at Lynnwood site

LYNNWOOD — An underground wall of sand and iron filings is planned as a measure to keep chemicals from spreading out from the ground beneath a closed dry cleaning business.

H&H Dry Cleaning, operated in a mini-mall at 18700 33rd Ave. W., near the Alderwood mall, from the early 1980s through 1999. Over time, leaky barrels stored behind the building allowed chemicals to run into the soil, said Debra Stevens, a planner for the city of Lynnwood.

More than half the contamination was cleaned up in the years after the business closed.

The remaining amount is not considered a hazard and no further cleanup was required by the state, said John Kane, chief executive officer and president of Kane Environmental of Seattle, which will do the work.

Still, if the remainder is cleaned up, the mini-mall can receive a more definitive, official statement from the state that the site is clean, Kane said.

Under state law, property owners are liable for cleaning up polluted sites. So the estate of the deceased business owner has volunteered to pay the bill for the new work, estimated at around $500,000, Kane said.

The wall is being installed as a precaution to keep the pollution from moving off the site, Kane said.

The floor of the building serves as a seal and the contamination poses no threat to the current tenants or customers, Kane said.

The pollution at the site consists primarily of perchloroethylene, or PCE, according to a report by Kane Environmental. The substance is a man-made liquid chemical used for dry cleaning and degreasing metal parts, according to an Oregon State University report.

High levels of PCE, if inhaled, can cause a range of symptoms and possibly death, according to the report.

The substance has caused cancer in laboratory animals exposed over a long period of time, according to the report.

A trench will be dug about three feet wide, 30 feet deep and 100 feet long on the south side of the building, and filled with sand and the iron filings, Kane said.

“Once PCE encounters that wall, the chemical breaks down into non-hazardous components,” he said.

The technology has been used for more than five years, Kane said.

The work is expected to start in late September and take about a month, he said. It’s not expected to cause any disruption for the tenants or their customers. The wall will be unnoticeable once it’s finished, Kane said.

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

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