A hydrogen peroxide spill at the Port of Olympia earlier this year was the result of a ball valve rupturing after a buildup of the chemical.
The valve needed to be vented, but wasn’t. As a result, 9,600 gallons of hydrogen peroxide was released, which led to a temporary evacuation of port staff and nearby businesses on Jan. 28.
Port environmental programs director Alex Smith brought the Port Commission up to speed Monday night about the spill and the next steps in the process.
The port hired Auburn-based engineering company Parametrix after the spill to assess what happened and to make recommendations for improvements.
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The hydrogen peroxide is used in the port’s recently constructed stormwater treatment system. Parametrix’s recommendations have been shared with the state Department of Ecology, Smith said.
To meet Parametrix and Ecology recommendations, including providing a larger containment area in the event there’s another spill, the port commission approved an engineering design contract Monday with Parametrix for as much as $100,000. The actual installation work will still have to be put out to bid, Smith said after the meeting.
Also Monday night:
• The port has moved its administrative headquarters to Percival Plaza in downtown Olympia, and now commission meetings are set to take place at that location, beginning July 27. The new address is 626 Columbia St. NW, Suite 1-B. Port Executive Director Ed Galligan said the new meeting space is larger than the current space in Tumwater and should “comfortably accommodate” regular meetings and work sessions.
• Galligan told the commission that he continues to have discussions with Connecticut-based American Cruise Lines about making the port a stop for the 100-person American Spirit. The company already offers cruises in Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands and southeast Alaska.
• During public comment, Olympia resident Denis Langhans raised concerns about the 52 percent drop in marine terminal revenue through April of this year, attributed to a drop in oil prices and a stronger U.S. dollar. Had the port built a proposed second warehouse to store fracking sand — which is used in oil exploration — it likely would have become a “warehouse to nowhere,” he said.
Commissioners Bill McGregor and George Barner defended the idea of a second warehouse because it was going to be used for more than just fracking sand, including storing equipment and steel products. Barner added that the port’s marine terminal director is working to reverse the recent revenue trend.
“I’m confident that we will realize some results from his efforts,” he said.