The former site of a Weyerhaeuser mill along the Snohomish River in north Everett is covered by grass and a parking area (center) used by an adjacent Amazon warehouse. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

The former site of a Weyerhaeuser mill along the Snohomish River in north Everett is covered by grass and a parking area (center) used by an adjacent Amazon warehouse. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

Is pollution at old mill site reaching the Snohomish River?

Over 20 years after an initial cleanup, the state isn’t sure arsenic on a 9-acre lot is contained.

EVERETT — There’s not enough data to show if contamination from a former mill site in Everett is leaking into the Snohomish River, according to the state Department of Ecology.

The state made that call in 2016, but just this week announced a plan to take a closer look at the 9 acres just southeast of the Highway 529 bridge between Everett and Marysville.

“Due to workload issues and various other issues we haven’t pursued any more active cleanup activities,” said Ron Timm, cleanup project manager with the Department of Ecology.

The land was first cleaned up by former owners in 1999. Since then, Ecology has reviewed the site every five years on top of annual monitoring.

Now Ecology is calling for a year-long study to determine if arsenic in the soil is at risk of reaching the Snohomish River.

“It’s still not certain that we need to be concerned about the containment,” Timm said. “We just need more evidence to confirm it.”

In its Mill Town days, Everett’s waterfronts were lined with industrial plants churning out pulp, lumber, and other products.

Today, most of those buildings are gone, but some environmental impacts of their operations linger.

To the west, crews are set to kick off cleanup of the 60-acre Kimberly-Clark site near the Port of Everett.

To the east, the proposed pollution study would take place along the Snohomish River, where the Weyerhaeuser Co. mill operations once stretched along its banks.

As mill operations began to slow down in the mid-1900s, Weyerhaeuser leased the 9-acre site to American Lumber and Treating Corporation. The company treated lumber there using arsenic, a pesticide called Pentachlorophenol, petroleum and other chemicals.

“Which is when the problems started,” Timm said.

The land changed hands a few more times to an engine maintenance shop, sawmill and wood pallet storage throughout the years. Today, it’s zoned as heavy industrial and is used as overflow parking and storage for the nearby Amazon distribution center.

Ecology sued Weyerhaeuser in 1998, leading to a settlement that required Weyerhaeuser to clean up the Snohomish River site.

While petroleum and some of the other contaminants present will break down over time — arsenic will not, Timm said.

So in 1999 Weyerhaeuser paved about four acres to trap arsenic in the soil.

Asphalt reduces rainfall infiltration, which helps reduce the chance arsenic will leach.

“…But when you have other chemicals in the soup it tends to want to be mobile,” Timm said. “It’s a very unpredictable chemical and it doesn’t usually break down, it just changes forms.”

In 2016, Ecology wasn’t convinced the arsenic was sufficiently contained.

Now they’re asking current owner M.A.P. #2, LLC and past owners of the land to collect more data.

“The soil has been covered so there’s no real threat to human health through direct contact,” Timm said. “It’s just how the contaminates could still be moving through groundwater and getting to the river sediments.”

Over the next year, Seattle environmental consulting agency Floyd|Snider will test groundwater and soil at the site four times, once each season. To do so, they’ll dig 10 groundwater monitoring wells and five soil probes in other parts of the lot.

The full work plan is open for public comment through July 21.

Once the year-long data collection period is complete, Ecology will determine a path forward.

“One of the concerns we’ve had in the past is that we didn’t have a thorough knowledge of what was going on at the site,” Timm said. “We want to solve that problem and collect as much data as we can to fully understand (it).”

How to comment

To make public comment, visit the state Department of Ecology’s website at http://tcp.ecology.commentinput.com/?id=FE4Ye or email Ronald.Timm@ecy.wa.gov. You may also mail comments to: Dept. of Ecology; Attn Ronald Timm, Site Manager; 3190 160th Ave. SE; Bellevue WA 98008-5452.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A resident reported finding a dead Asian giant hornet near Marysville on June 4. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Dead ‘murder hornet’ found in Marysville, a first for county

It could be from a previous season, scientists say, because males don’t typically emerge this early.

Jeff Thoreson does a cheer with his second grade class before the start of their kickball game on his last in-person day of school on Thursday, June 17, 2021 in Snohomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish teacher hit the right notes in memorable career

Jeff Thoreson will retire this month after molding minds at Riverview Elementary School for 41 years.

FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2020, file photo, Staff Sgt. Travis Snyder, left, receives the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine given at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, south of Seattle. Nurse Jose Picart, right, administered the shot. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday, June 17, 2021, announced a new COVID-19 vaccine incentive lottery for the state's military, family members and veterans because the federal government wasn't sharing individual vaccine status of those groups with the state and there were concerns they would be left out of a previously announced lottery. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
New vaccine lottery announced for military in Washington

Gov. Inslee said there were concerns they would be left out of a previously announced lottery.

Police: After short chase in Marysville, man dies by suicide

Officers responded to a domestic violence call. The suspect reportedly shot himself at the end of a chase.

The Everett Police Department has asked the City Council to keep its nine Stay Out of Drug Areas, zones where people arrested for drug crimes are not allowed. (City of Everett)
Everett police ask council to renew 9 drug enforcement areas

SODAs are a legal tool that prohibits people arrested for drug crimes from entering certain areas.

Sequoia High graduates move their tassels from one side to the other at the end of the graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 17, 2021 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Gallery: Sequoia High Graduation

Sequoia High School graduates receive their diplomas

Woman killed in hit-and-run south of Everett is identified

Detectives have been searching for the vehicle that struck Katherine Mueller, 31, of Snohomish.

Pallet communities are groups of tiny homes for unhoused people. Here, a worker installs weatherstripping on a pallet shelter at Pallet in Everett in January 2020. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)
Tiny home community is proposed at a Marysville church

The Pallet shelter community would provide transitional housing to eight people. Neighbors have questions.

In Edmonds, ‘small cell’ deployment permit becomes a big deal

The City Council has allowed new cellular equipment under an ordinance that regulates conditions.

Most Read