Mill site toxin levels higher than expected
EVERETT - The buildings being demolished at the former Kimberly-Clark Mill site have higher than expected levels of contamination and the toxic debris is being ground into the dirt on the site, a City Council member found.
A state Department of Ecology official confirmed last week that the mill buildings have significantly more contamination than what is acceptable by state law. Kimberly-Clark’s demolition team is spreading some of the contaminated debris over the site.
Furthermore, the city has known about the issue since early April, said the official, Andy Kallus, Ecology’s toxics cleanup manager for the site.
Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher, who learned of this information on her own, was visibly alarmed at last week’s council meeting.
The contamination limits what could be developed on the site if it’s not cleaned up. Certain types of development, especially housing, have safety regulations with regards to the toxicity of the ground they are built on.
Stonecipher is upset that the toxic soil could restrict what could be built there.
The city and Kimberly-Clark promised Everett residents the site would be fully cleaned up to allow any type of use, she said.
Kimberly-Clark alerted Ecology in April after the company sampled the debris piles, Kallus said.
Kimberly-Clark’s demolition team found higher-than-expected levels of metals, arsenic and cadmium in the debris, he said. The company told Ecology it would ship the heavily contaminated debris to an acceptable waste disposal site, Kallus said.
Ecology will sample the debris soon. Kimberly-Clark risks having to dig up the contaminated debris it spread on the site if Ecology determines it has to go, Kallus said. A cleanup work plan is being created, he said.
The debris pile is more than 200 cubic yards of crushed brick and concrete.
“We want to know what (debris is) there (that is) exceeding unrestricted land use and industrial uses” for soil contamination, Kallus said.
In January, the City Council voted to keep the area zoned for heavy industrial use after discussing the property for almost a year. Stonecipher was the lone vote against the zoning ordinance. She wanted to see the site zoned for commercial and light industrial uses.
The site is 65 acres along Everett’s waterfront.
The city wants some control over the site to avoid unwanted companies such as oil refineries and water bottling companies to show interest in building there.
Stonecipher said she called Ecology after residents called her about dust spreading from the mill site into their neighborhood.
The Tribune reported last month that residents were seeing a build up of dust from the demolition site in their neighborhood and reporting it to Ecology and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
Kallus said he recently saw water trucks spraying the site to keep down the dust when he visited late last month.
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