Richland, Walla Walla spill sites part of 2-year cleanup campaign

Chemical spill contamination sites in Richland and Walla Walla are among a half-dozen locations in Eastern Washington targeted for a two-year cleanup campaign paid for by the state Department of Ecology.

The initiative will use $6 million authorized by the 2011 state Legislature to remove contaminants from old gas stations where fuel leaked into ground water and to clean up former mining areas where cyanide, mercury and other heavy metals had accumulated.

Richland has about 10 petroleum leak sites associated with underground storage tanks in the commercial areas along Stevens Drive and Lee Boulevard.

It is suspected that there are several commingled plumes of petroleum and dry-cleaning contamination in soil and groundwater. Money will be used to investigate any overlap areas to determine cleanup objectives.

Schwerin Concaves in Walla Walla operated a hard chromium electroplating business from the late 1970s to 2000.

The state will try to remove hexavalent chromium from the soil, as well as reduce levels of arsenic, cadmium, iron, lead, zinc, nitrate and sulfate in the ground water.

The cleanup effort will address properties where the responsible land owner, user or facility operator could not be found or is unable to pay for remediation.

In addition to Richland and Walla Walla, cleanups will be done in Buena, Sunnyside, Cle Elum, Ione, in Okanogan County and along the Spokane River.

"Cleaning up these sites protects public and environmental health, creates jobs, and promotes economic growth as these sites are re-developed," said Valerie Bound, a toxics cleanup manager for the Washington Department of Ecology in Yakima, in a news release.

A public meeting is at 6 p.m. Thursday at Buena Nueva, 66 Highland Drive, Buena, where community members can learn more about a proposal to investigate and clean up petroleum contamination at the Gold Nugget Market and the former Roby's Service Station.

Cleanup activities should begin in 2012, said Joye Redfield-Wilder, ecology spokeswoman.