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Residents: Don't trust city to clean up dump site

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Shelton residents told officials from the state Department of Ecology that they don't trust the City of Shelton to adequately investigate and then clean up its toxic former C Street landfill.

Their comments were documented at a public open house hosted by four DOE officials March 30 at the Mason PUD 3 building. The department accepted comments through Wednesday on a project work order with the city to begin to address the site, where the city, local businesses and individuals dumped toxic materials for decades.

The DOE presented an identical report and forum Feb. 9 at the Shelton Civic Center. About 75 people attended that forum, where attendees continually interrupted the presenters to express their dismay at the amount of time it's taken to address the toxic, 16-acre site west of downtown Shelton.

Enough people signed up to obligate the DOE employees to return for a second presentation. About 30 people attended the second forum.

One of the speakers was Shelton resident Will Durham, who is the plaintiff along with the Waste Action Project in suing the city for failure to close the landfill. Durham told the DOE officials that when it comes to addressing the landfill, "The city has no clues. They've had no clues for 50 years."

Durham said that when he talks to city officials about the dump, all he hears is about "cutting costs, kicking things under the rug... and getting on with development."

Durham advised the DOE officials not to count on the city's investigation.

"The city will minimalize chemicals of concern," Durham said. He added, They have a moral duty to keep citizens safe."

Jason Landskron, the cleanup project manager for the DOE Toxic Cleanup Program, reminded the attendees that his department must sign off on all the city's actions on the landfill.

"You need to keep in mind Ecology has the final say," Landskron said. He added, "As an engineer, I have an obligation to protect the citizens of the state."

The agreed order is a legal agreement that requires the city of Shelton to look for the types and extent of contamination on the site through a remedial investigation; explore cleanup options for the site through a feasibility study, and propose cleanup actions for the site through a draft cleanup action plan.

The state DOE will finalize each of these documents and present them as public review drafts.

'Because we do not fully know the nature of the waste discarded on the site, it is important to gather thorough, fact-based information about the nature and extent of contamination before moving forward with cleanup," the department states.


The 17-arre landfill lies just outside the southern boundary of the proposed Shelton Hills development, west of downtown Shelton and U.S. Highway 101. Private owners mined the site for sand and gravel before the city bought the land in 1928 to use as a municipal landfill.

The former Rayonier pulp mill and research laboratory dumped byproducts and demolition debris at the landfill. The city dumped sludge from its wastewater treatment sites. Between 1976 and 1981, wastewater treatment sludge containing ash from Simpson Lumber Co. s Shelton mill was dumped at the site.

At the hearing on March 30, Landskron said he is hearing a lot of concerns about possible dioxins at the landfill. Dioxins are created by incomplete combustion in the presence of chorine, including incineration, power plants and pulp mills, he said.

But Landskron said dioxins cling to soil and don't move.

It doesn't leech into the soil," he said. "It pretty much stays where you left it... It's very unlikely to be in the water."

Dioxins don't absorb through the skin, Landskron said. Someone would have to eat the contaminated dirt for a long time to get a negative reaction, he said.

But Durham said he believes mercury from hospital waste might be present at the site.

These things worry me greatly," he said.

Terri Thompson of Union also expressed frustration with the slow process to address the landfill. She said she has amassed three three-inch-think binders of information on the site, which she placed on a disc.

"I tried to get the city to do the right thing," she said. "I gave them the disc.... At this point, we're 2 and 1/2 years in."

Constance Ibsen of Union pointed out the DOE report states that sludge was dumped at the site from 1951 to 1981 the city admitted to dumping there until 1986.

"We talk like it was stopped in 1981," she said.

Ibsen paid she "lacks the confidence" the city will adequately execute the study and cleanup at the dump, "and it may just be easier for Ecology to do the work themselves." Shelton resident Pat Vandehey. who has been researching the site for years, presented her comments in writing at the meeting. She refutes DOEs claims that the dioxins at the dump aren't moving.

Vandehey wrote that the dumping occurred above the level of Goldsbor-ough Creek, "and could be carried by water flow or erosion into other areas. Also, in hot, dry weather, the dioxin-laden soil can be blown around, inhaled or carried on shoes and clothing."

Vandehey also mentioned another toxic property a mile from the landfill.

The public does not want this agreed order to be handled the way Goose Lake has been and still is," she wrote. That agreed order was signed in 2001 and still has not been completed."

The DOE will review and consider the collected comments, and respond with a summary that will be sent to commenters and posted on the department's website.

It will make changes to the agreed order based on the comments.

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: April 7, 2016

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