Tainted soil costly for Everett district

EVERETT — The Everett School District likely will have to pay more than $450,000 to haul contaminated soil from land that could someday be home to a new administration building.

More than 300 truckloads of dirt from the site off Broadway and 41st Street SE are expected to be removed this summer.

“We plan to start as soon as we can,” said Mike Gunn, the district’s facilities director.

Records from the state Department of Ecology show soil and groundwater contamination from diesel and gasoline on the site. The district in 1986 bought the property, which once housed gas stations and a fuel distribution company. The contamination was reported to the state in December.

The district is doing the clean-up voluntarily rather than by a state order, said Russell Olsen, a regional volunteer clean-up program supervisor for the Department of Ecology.

“It sounds like they are doing all the right steps to proceed,” Olsen said.

Part of the contaminated soil is beneath where the district plans to build a $28 million administration building. The rest is where a parking lot would be.

Money for the new building would come from interest on investments, lease revenues, state matching funds and the sale of property. Clean-up money comes from a capital improvements account that cannot be used for the district’s day-to-day operations, Gunn said.

District officials have pushed construction back because they don’t believe they can get a good deal on the sale of property in the current real estate market.

The Everett School Board has not identified which properties it could sell.

Architects are designing the administration building, which would include two main floors and a third floor that would be largely covered parking.

District administration buildings are now spread over three locations, including View Ridge Elementary School, which is scheduled for major construction improvements in 2011. Other district offices are the Colby Educational Service Center, 4730 Colby Ave., which is more than 40 years old, and the 97-year-old Longfellow Building, 3715 Oakes Ave.

Gunn said the school district will go out to bid soon for the clean-up that will include replacing 2,650 cubic yards of tainted soil with clean soil.

Olsen, from the Department of Ecology, said contaminated soil is typically trucked to an Oregon landfill or taken to a treatment center where the petroleum is burned out of the dirt.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@herald.com.

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