EVERETT — ExxonMobil and a local oil distributor will pay the Port of Everett $350,000 for costs related to an environmental cleanup that extends onto about a half-acre of port property, under a new settlement agreement.
The corporate giant’s predecessors and Marysville-based American Distributing Co. stored petroleum on two Federal Avenue properties in the 1900s. Now, with the state Department of Ecology’s oversight, they’re responsible for addressing the petroleum-saturated soil beneath the surface.
The ExxonMobil and ADC properties, together, are nearly an acre in size, just west of the ramp that connects Terminal Avenue with West Marine View Drive. The land was paved about 20 years ago and has been a parking lot ever since.
The companies have been studying the extent of the contamination there for decades and taking steps to remove pollutants.
At the turn of the century, crews dug a trench west of the properties and installed pumps to intercept oil before it reached the sound, said Barry Rogowski, a section manager for Ecology’s Toxics Cleanup Program. More contaminants were removed years later, when petroleum-tainted groundwater began rising above the pavement, he said.
The final cleanup is expected to begin in May. And it’s likely to involve more digging — probably 10 to 15 feet into the ground, he said.
The endeavor will affect port property that’s now leased by Everett Ship Repair and Dunlap Towing.
ADC owner Steve Miller said the agreement with the port represents another “significant milestone” in the cleanup process.
“I’m just very, very happy to have this project moving forward,” Miller said. “It has been a very, very long time that this has been going on.”
Under the settlement, approved unanimously by the Port of Everett’s three-member commission on Tuesday, the companies will pay the port for monitoring the cleanup, accessing port property, developing the financial agreement, and other past and future expenses.
The $350,000 sum will be split 60-40 by ExxonMobil and ADC, respectively.
The payout includes money to handle and dispose of petroleum-laden soil and groundwater that the port expects to encounter while digging utility trenches on Federal Avenue, as part of the new Norton Terminal.
The companies and the port have arranged for the cleanup to be complete by the opening of the terminal in late 2022. Located just north of the cleanup area, the former site of the Kimberly-Clark pulp and paper mill is currently being readied for cargo.
“The cost to the port is the operational impacts,” Port CEO Lisa Lefeber told the commission on Tuesday. “So that’s why the team worked so hard on getting the schedule to align with the opening of the new Norton Terminal. Because if they had to do this work after the terminal opened, there would be financial impacts to that cleanup.”
While the port and the companies have come to a consensus on the terms, not all parties had signed the agreement as of Friday morning, said port spokeswoman Cat Soper. Port officials expect the deal to be final within a week.
“ExxonMobil takes its environmental responsibilities at historic legacy sites seriously and complies with all applicable environmental laws and regulations,” Meghan Macdonald, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an email.
The agreement requires that the companies temporarily relocate, and then return, the portable building that houses Everett Ship Repair’s office. Contractors will also have to backfill and repave excavated areas and build a barrier wall between the port property and Federal Avenue to prevent pollutants from returning in the future.
Under the settlement, the excavation and construction on port property will have to be complete by Sept. 30, 2022, “unless circumstances materially outside of ExxonMobil and ADC’s control require extension of the Project Schedule.”
The port will also agree to release ExxonMobil and ADC “from all past, present, and future claims” related to the cleanup and hazardous materials at the site.
The companies have submitted a draft cleanup action plan to the state, plus a supporting feasibility study, Rogowski said. The plan is slated to be released for public comment next spring.
Rachel Riley: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @rachel_m_riley.
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