EVERETT – Cleanup of toxic soils at the waterfront site of the $300 million Port Gardner Wharf project will cost more than $1 million, Port of Everett officials said Tuesday.
The cleanup is much more expensive than earlier thought, largely because the amount of waste and its toxic nature is much larger and more serious than expected.
“They didn’t think on the initial tests that it was going to be as contaminated as it is,” said port commissioner Don Hopkins. “We’ll have a backhoe out there digging and all of a sudden, they’ll come up with another spot.”
Landau Associates, the port’s environmental consultant, had initially said much of the contamination involved asbestos at such low enough levels that the areas could be capped with clean soil rather than sending it to a dump.
Port property manager Eric Russell said that ultimately there were 200 test holes and monitoring wells dug on the 65-acre property.
“We found a lot of interesting stuff out there,” he told port commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. “Some of it is contaminated soil that must be removed.”
An estimated 45,000 cubic yards of tainted dirt must be hauled away, Russell said. That’s enough to fill 4,500 dump trucks. Next week, port commissioners will be asked to approve a $373,100 contract for cleanup work. Another contract for $162,000 will target cleanup at the former American Construction site.
Port officials will also be asked to approve an estimated $600,000 in disposal fees for taking the dirt to a landfill for toxic material. As much as half of the 45,000 cubic yards may have to go to a such a disposal site, Russell said.
The area, soon-to-be-developed by a port partnership with Maritime Trust of Chicago, has been used by heavy industry since the founding of Everett, once called the city of smokestacks. Port director John Mohr, said the area had its share of chemical spills or had companies that dumped toxic materials on their sites.
Mohr said the cost revealed Tuesday may not be the final number.
“That assumes that we will not find anything else there,” he said. “We may find a place where someone dug a trench and threw in a few barrels.”
The costs disturbed Hopkins, who called them “just mindboggling.”
“Every time you try to do something for the good, there’s always an obstacle,” he said. “No matter how many projects we do, there always is something new.”
Mohr said the cleanup will make the property better.
“We’re definitely doing the right thing cleaning this up,” he said. “As we go forward and we are cleaning the site up we will develop a process where we can go in and make sure that our tenants are doing the things that need to be done so that this level of pollution won’t happen again.”
Herald writer Mike Benbow: 425-339-3459 or email@example.com.