News Releases from Region 10
EPA Updates Cleanup Plan for Wyckoff-Eagle Harbor Superfund Site on Bainbridge Island, Washington
Cleanup work this year will lead to re-opening beaches and protecting people from exposure to historic creosote pollution
SEATTLE ̶ The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued phase one of its updated cleanup plan for the Wyckoff-Eagle Harbor Superfund Site, on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Starting this year, EPA plans to complete final cleanup designs, begin removing creosote contamination from beach areas, and replace the containment wall to keep the creosote from reaching Puget Sound.
This first phase, of a two-phased cleanup, will protect residents and beach users from exposure to the creosote at the site and allow closed sections of the beach to re-open so they can safely be used for recreation. Creosote is toxic and contains chemicals which can cause cancer. Creosote can also cause chemical burns on bare skin. EPA advises all beach visitors to avoid the contaminated closed areas of the beach until the cleanup is completed. Even though contaminated beach areas are closed, people and pets are frequently observed going past warning signs. EPA expects to complete the beach cleanup and containment wall during the next four years.
“This cleanup work at the Wyckoff site is critical to protecting people’s health and the health of Puget Sound,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Chris Hladick. “We have improved and expedited our cleanup plans in response to public input, and we look forward to starting work this year to make the beaches safe again for the community.”
“This cleanup will benefit people and the environment. It’s the result of the public, local governments, EPA and Ecology working together,” said Washington Department of Ecology Toxics Cleanup Program Manager Jim Pendowski. “We’re pleased to support this plan, and we appreciate our partnership with EPA in managing this site.”
“This is exciting news for the Bainbridge Island community and will help us move toward our long-range goals for Pritchard Park. I have been extremely impressed with the EPA’s community engagement on the Wyckoff cleanup. They have demonstrated a genuine concern and interest in hearing from the community,” said Bainbridge Island City Manager Doug Schulze. “City representatives will continue to work with the EPA, Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District and Department of Ecology as cleanup efforts move forward to make sure residents and visitors are safe in our community.”
EPA proposed a comprehensive cleanup plan in 2016 that included this phase one work for the nearshore and beach areas as well as phase two work in the upland areas to immobilize the contamination and treat contaminated groundwater. The site-wide cleanup work was later divided into two phases in order to expedite the priority cleanup of the beaches and the containment wall replacement. Phase two of the cleanup will permanently contain and immobilize the creosote and other contaminants in the upland soils and groundwater, protecting drinking water aquifers and preventing contaminants from reaching Puget Sound. Phase one is documented in a Record of Decision Amendment 1. The first phase of cleanup is expected to cost an estimated $36.3 million and take three to four years to complete. EPA’s Record of Decision Amendment 2 for the phase two cleanup will be released by the end of the year. Phase two of the cleanup is expected to cost an estimated $60 million and take approximately eight to ten years to construct.
East Harbor Beach Cleanup
The closed beaches north and east of the former Wyckoff wood treating facility are contaminated with creosote, a toxic wood-treating chemical. The west beach along Pritchard Park was cleaned up in 2007 and is safe for recreation. In phase one, EPA will excavate the remaining contaminated beach areas, cover those areas with an oil-absorbing material, and then backfill and cap those areas with a thick protective layer of clean sand. When the beach cleanup is completed, these formerly closed beach areas will re-open for recreational use by beach walkers, stand up paddle boarders, kayakers and others. Eagle Harbor is currently closed to recreational shellfish harvesting and the state fishing health advisory will continue until the shellfish are safe to eat.
Wyckoff Wood Treating Facility Cleanup
The soil and groundwater in the upland area of the former wood treating facility are contaminated with creosote and other toxic chemicals. The contamination in the groundwater is being contained within a steel sheet pile wall and with a groundwater extraction and treatment system. The containment wall is a critical part of the overall containment system, because it prevents contaminated soil and groundwater from moving into Eagle Harbor. The above-ground part of the wall is corroding. In this phase one cleanup, the containment wall will be replaced with a new reinforced concrete and steel sheet pile wall.
EPA is currently planning the phase two cleanup for the creosote contamination in the soils and groundwater in the upland area of the site inside the containment wall. Part of the former wood treating facility here is currently fenced off and closed to the public. The land west of the former processing area has been converted into Pritchard Park, a popular recreational area that includes walking trails through the wooded hillside above the beach. When the phase two cleanup of the upland soil and groundwater contamination is completed, the City of Bainbridge Island and the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District are planning to incorporate this property into Pritchard Park.
EPA added the Wyckoff-Eagle Harbor site to the Superfund National Priorities List in 1987 due to health risks from creosote and other toxic chemical contamination in the soils, groundwater and beaches and in the sediments on the bottom of Eagle Harbor. EPA has completed earlier cleanup actions in three areas of the site. In Eagle Harbor, EPA covered more than 70 acres of contaminated sediments with a protective layer of clean sand. At the former wood treating facility, EPA demolished and removed buildings and chemical storage tanks, installed a system to extract and treat contaminated groundwater, and constructed a containment wall. In the West Harbor, sediments contaminated with mercury and other toxic metals around a former shipyard were dredged and placed in a safe on-site containment facility.
Creosote Health Risks
Creosote is a chemical used to treat and protect utility poles, pier pilings and wooden rail road ties. At the Wyckoff site, the creosote often shows up in small seeps or patches on the lower beach, usually during very low tides in the summer. The creosote looks like motor oil with a rainbow sheen. Creosote contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs which can cause cancer. Creosote can also cause chemical burns on bare skin. EPA advises all beach visitors to avoid the contaminated closed areas of the beach until the cleanup is completed. These off-limits areas are marked with warning signs and can be viewed in EPA’s Wyckoff Beach Safety Fact Sheet.
- Fact sheet on the updated cleanup plan: Cleanup Plan for Upland and Offshore at Wyckoff Site
- The cleanup plan and more information are available at: Record of Decision Amendment 1
- Learn more about the Wyckoff site and cleanup activities at: Wyckoff-Eagle Harbor Superfund Site
- Fact sheet on beach safety: Fact Sheet: Beaches at Wyckoff Still Contaminated (May 2017)
- Read about Ecology’s work at the Wyckoff Eagle Harbor site: Ecology--Wyckoff Eagle Harbor Cleanup
- Creosote Seeps
- Warning Signs