Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ecology Requests Comments on Hardel Site Cleanup Plan - Reliable Steel Cleanup Still On Hold

Above: The site of Hardel Mutual Plywood at 1210 West Bay Drive, NW, Olympia overlooks a stunning view of Budd Inlet and the city of Olympia.

Ecology Requests Comments on Hardel Site Cleanup Plan - Reliable Steel Cleanup Still On Hold

by Janine Unsoeld

The Washington State Department of Ecology is seeking comments from the public on a draft cleanup action plan for the Hardel Mutual Plywood site at 1210 West Bay Drive NW in Olympia. Ecology began accepting comments on March 22 and will do so until April 20.

Guy Barrett, Washington State Department of Ecology site manager for Hardel, said in a telephone interview late Tuesday that he has only received one official comment so far.

Past business activities at the Hardel site contaminated soil and groundwater. The plan documents include three reports. One describes the nature and extent of contamination, another describes Ecology’s investigation of the site and evaluates cleanup options, and a third describes cleanup options, how Hardel cleaned up the site, and why Ecology considers the cleanup to be complete. The documents are available for review at the Olympia Timberland Library, at the Department of Ecology, or online at

While investigating the site, Hardel found that some contamination was moving toward Budd Inlet.

According to Ecology, Hardel has cleaned up the site through an interim cleanup action approved in 2010. After completing the interim action, Hardel sampled groundwater for one year. Since they found no contaminants above cleanup levels, Ecology now considers the cleanup to be complete.

In a fact sheet, Ecology says Hardel found dioxins and phthalates in Budd Inlet sediments but that the contaminants do not seem to be from the site.

Beginning in 1924, the site was used for logging and lumber related businesses. Hardel operated a plywood manufacturing business on the site from 1951-1996. The company ceased operations in Olympia after a fire severely damaged the buildings. The site has nine groundwater monitoring wells and three sediment sampling locations.

Ecology will review all comments received during the comment period, respond, finalize the cleanup action plan, make changes to the plan if necessary, and possibly remove the site from the Hazardous Sites list. Ecology will hold a separate public comment period before removing the site from the list.

There are no known future restrictions for the Hardel property for redevelopment, except those identified by current land use zoning.

There are currently eight sites deemed by Ecology as contaminated throughout the area of Budd Inlet.

Next Door: Reliable Steel

Above: The Reliable Steel site at 1218 West Bay Drive NW, Olympia.

One of the eight contaminated sites is the property next door to Hardel Mutual Plywood, a site known as the former location of Reliable Steel. Owned by Triway Enterprises, the 4.25 acre site is currently being cleared of debris by workers.

Steve Teel, Washington State Department of Ecology site manager for Reliable Steel, says a formal environmental cleanup is still on hold. Ecology was last actively involved with an environmental cleanup plan for the site in 2007-2008 when progress stalled.

"Tri Vo went broke, then we had an agreement with the former owner regarding a remedial study but the corporation dissolved, then Ecology lacked the money to continue," says Teel.

"I'm hoping we can get money July 1st - I'm waiting until the new biennium to use state funds to work on the site. But as far as cleanup goes, we're on hold. We've done the remedial investigation - we know what kind of contaminants are there - we've done the feasibility study as to what the options are to clean it up, and we have a draft cleanup action plan - we just need to revise it," said Teel.

The site was originally developed as a lumber mill. Since 1941, it was used for boat building, welding and steel fabrication.

In 1993, Ecology inspected the site and found levels of arsenic and copper above Ecology standards for marine sediment quality. Ecology requested that welding debris on or near the shore of Budd Inlet be removed.

Ecology was notified in 2006 that total petroleum hydrocarbons and heavy metals had been found above acceptable cleanup levels in soil and groundwater on the site, and deemed contaminated. The site entered into a voluntary cleanup program, but was later removed from the program due to inactivity. The site was then entered into the formal Washington Model Toxics Control Act cleanup program.

In an email dated March 28, Teel asks Triway Enterprises representative Tori Cookson about the status of the demolition at Reliable Steel, and when the company will be ready for a site inspection.

Ecology did not order the demolition, however, Ecology, the city of Olympia, and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) were all involved in the planning of the work. Permits for it were issued by the city and DFW.

Cookson promptly responded to Teel, saying, in part, "We are behind schedule...The wood stacked around the south end of the site has been sold and is being taken off site in increments."

In an email yesterday that appears to be prompted by this reporter's inquiry about the property, Teel again asks Cookson for a site update.

Through email, Cookson responded today to Teel:

"The party that purchased the wood is moving quickly now to remove all from the premises. Everything is down that was contracted to be demolished but cleanup appeared to be at a stand-still. I am now seeing some cleanup moving forward...."

A call from this reporter to Cookson requesting more information late this afternoon was not returned.

For more information about the Hardel Mutual Plywood draft cleanup action plan and to comment, contact Guy Barrett, Site Manager, Department of Ecology, SW Regional Office Toxics Cleanup Program, P.O. Box 47775, Olympia, WA 98504-7775, or phone, (360) 407-7115, or email,

Public involvement questions can be referred to Diana Smith, Public Involvement Coordinator, Department of Ecology, (360) 407-6255 or email,

For more information about the Reliable Steel site, contact Steve Teel, Washington State Department of Ecology, at (360) 407-6247 or or go to Ecology's toxics cleanup website at

Above: The Reliable Steel site, now with a couple buildings removed, daylights a stormwater pipe. Water flows freely between pipes. "I don't know what feeds that pipe - probably stormwater up the hill," says Steve Teel, state Department of Ecology site manager for Reliable Steel. Teel, a hydrogeologist, says the water there has been sampled and copper showed up, but the source was likely from the stormwater runoff. "Other than that, it was pretty clean," says Teel.