Department of Ecology plans partial cleanup for polluted property on West Bay

The Department of Ecology expects to begin a partial cleanup this summer at the Reliable Steel site on Olympia’s West Bay.

Located at 1218 West Bay Drive, the abandoned property is contaminated with chemicals and metals that are polluting groundwater, according to the department.

The proposed cleanup is scheduled to begin in September and last about one month, said site manager Steve Teel. Crews will remove contaminated soil and metal debris, along with a leaking underground storage tank that was used for heating oil.

The summer’s partial cleanup will keep the site from getting worse, but represents a fraction of the total work required, Teel said. The partial cleanup does not include the most expensive part of the process, which involves decontamination of sediment, Teel said. The entire cleanup is estimated to cost $3.8 million, according to the department. The remaining cleanup requires a legal agreement with current property owner Drogba LLC, which bought the foreclosed site in January. An attorney who represents Drogba would not disclose the owner’s intentions for the property.

The site ranks among Thurston County’s worst in terms of pollution, according to the department’s Feb. 2014 Hazardous Sites List. The statewide list includes 83 properties in Thurston County. Each site receives a ranking of one through five, depending on the degree of contamination and threat to human health compared to other sites on the list. The Reliable Steel site is among 10 properties in the county with a rank of one, which represents the highest level of risk.

“It’s one of our higher risk sites,” said Diana Smith, public involvement coordinator for the department. The public may submit comments and questions about the cleanup until July 21 by emailing Steve.Teel@ecy.wa.gov.

From 1941-2009, the Reliable Steel site was used for making steel, boats and even tanks. The abandoned property’s total 2014 assessed value is $462,900, according to the city.

The site’s cleanup does not determine its future use. With the remaining buildings covered in graffiti, the Reliable Steel property is among a handful of “priority sites” identified for the city’s proposed Community Renewal Area (CRA). The CRA is an economic development tool that targets run-down properties by allowing cities to initiate and direct renewal projects with private property owners. The city is still developing a plan for the CRA, with adoption expected later this year or in early 2015, according to city staff reports.