Comment period opens for draft report on Boeing Auburn cleanup investigation

Contaminated groundwater extends under parts of Algona and Auburn

  • Friday, March 10, 2017 4:15pm
  • News

The Washington Department of Ecology invites the public to review a draft report on a multi-year study into groundwater contamination at property owned by The Boeing Co. in Auburn that has spread into parts of Algona and Auburn.

The study, called a remedial investigation, is the first phase in Washington’s four part cleanup process for contaminated sites. It provides information needed for the next steps: evaluating cleanup options, preparing a cleanup action plan, and doing the cleanup work and any follow-up monitoring that may be needed.

Ecology is accepting comments on the document through May 8, 2017, and has scheduled:

• An open house to explain, answer questions and accept written comments about the investigation and draft report on March 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Alpac Elementary School, 310 Milwaukee Blvd. N in Pacific.

• An online open house, available throughout the comment period.

• A public hearing to record comments on April 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Alpac Elementary School.

The live and online events will feature information displays in English and Spanish. Childcare and Spanish translation will be provided at the live events. At the open house, experts from Ecology and health agencies will be available to answer questions about the investigation, next steps and how the public can be involved.

Chemicals found in groundwater

Ecology oversees the cleanup process that Boeing is conducting. The investigation, which began in 2002, has evaluated the location, size and impacts of underground contamination that extends more than a mile north and northwest of Boeing’s property.

Groundwater in that portion of southwestern Auburn and northeastern Algona is contaminated with a degreaser called trichloroethene (TCE) and its breakdown products, including vinyl chloride. TCE was used at Boeing’s facility to clean metal parts from the 1960s through the 1980s. The solvent likely leaked through cracks in the concrete lining of floor pits used for parts cleaning.

Groundwater samples from the area contain contamination at concentrations that are not expected to pose a risk to human health or the environment. Public drinking water in the area is safe to drink.

In 2005 and 2006, Boeing cleaned up part of this contamination at a location on its property where TCE in groundwater was found at concentrations that required prompt action to prevent the contamination from spreading. The report describes that cleanup, called an interim action.

The report also covers investigations of several additional locations with other contamination on Boeing’s property.

Documents and information available

The draft report is available on Ecology’s website. The site also provides information on the investigation and cleanup process in English and Spanish. People with questions about the investigation may contact Ecology at 253-219-7645 or boeingauburnsite@ecy.wa.gov. The draft report and related written materials also are available for review at:

• Algona-Pacific Branch, King County Library, 255 Ellingson Road, Pacific

• Auburn Branch, King County Library, 1102 Auburn Way S, Auburn

• Ecology’s Northwest Regional Office, 3190 160th Ave. SE, Bellevue. By appointment: 435-649-7090 or sally.perkins@ecy.wa.gov

To submit comments:

• Email: boeingauburnsite@ecy.wa.gov

• U.S. Mail: Boeing Auburn Comments, Dept. of Ecology, 3190 160th Ave. SE, Bellevue WA 98008-5452

• Online: boeingauburn.participate.online/comment

Ecology will review all comments before adopting the remedial investigation. The report will be used for planning future steps in the cleanup process. After the remedial investigation is adopted, the next step will be a feasibility study that will explore options for cleaning up and remediating the groundwater. Then, Ecology will propose adoption of a cleanup action plan. The public will also have the opportunity to comment on both of those steps.

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