Letters to the Editor

Proposed cleanup of old Federal Way school district bus barn inadequate | Letter

Email your letter to: letters@fedwaymirror.com - Contributed
Email your letter to: letters@fedwaymirror.com
— image credit: Contributed

The city of Federal Way just released the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) determination for proposed cleanup of contamination at the High Point apartments site at the old Federal Way Public Schools bus barn.

The current proposal is inadequate to assure the public that all contamination has been removed and here are several reasons why.

First of all, as we all know, the school district used the site for vehicles, for decades. The contamination there is well known and is a serious health concern. The SEPA determination, as put forward by the city, includes only a passive review component, with no guarantee, or even consideration of active oversight of the cleanup of this site. But the city should add an extra step and resample the contamination after the buildings are removed.

The determination should only be based on confirmation sampling once the site has been cleared of all structures, and sampling in previously inaccessible areas has been completed. The city is not planning to do this.

Given the long-time use of the property with shop areas, hydraulic lifts, vehicle maintenance and fueling, there are fairly good odds that once they remove the site structures and other improvements they will find additional, previously undiscovered contamination.

This will make oversight of that phase of the cleanup (final removal of site structures and improvements), and related confirmation sampling demonstrating that contamination has been removed to or below the Model Toxics Control Act, method A, cleanup levels critical.

The current proposal is simply not good enough in this regard. The reason there is a need for this is that there are still significant unknown factors related to existing contamination on this site. Simply assuming the site will be adequately cleaned is not prudent, or rational, at this stage of site activity. And we should expect and demand a full cleanup.

Another reason to oppose the determination is that it offers the developer to do the cleanup through an independent third party, and then there will be little Ecology oversight, and virtually no opportunity for public comment or participation in the process.

This is critical as the developer has substantial incentive to try and rush the cleanup through as rapidly as possible.

We should demand a full cleanup, out in the open with a public process, and resampling after the buildings are removed. We should make sure that these cancer-causing chemicals are really gone.

Please join me in sending letters to the city of Federal Way, demanding a full cleanup and a transparent process for the people so we can know assuredly that the poisons have been removed from the land.

Comments on the cleanup are due to Matt Herrera by April 11, in writing by email or letter. Email him at Matt.Herrera@cityoffederalway.com.

Leah Boehm-Brady, Federal Way


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