A 31-acre parcel of proper formerly owned by Georgia-Pacific Corp. is currently the subject of debate for officials at the Washington State Department of Ecology. The debate concerns how to clean up contaminated portions of the property. The department, it has been reported, is probably going to recommend spending around $5.7 million to cap and remove portions of the property exposed to toxic pollution. Sources say the contaminants include mercury and other metals, petroleum, dioxins/furans, and volatile organic compounds.
That plan, while expensive, is actually the most inexpensive option for restoring the property to a usable condition. The most expensive option, which would cost $91 million, proposes to remove and replace all contaminated soil up to 15-feet below the ground. The cheapest alternative for cleanup also calls for monitoring metal-contaminated groundwater to ensure metal levels keep going down and that it isn’t used for drinking. Other alternatives are available, but it is unlikely the agency will opt for them when all is said and done.
Cleanup efforts such as this one are important because they often prevent contaminants from spreading to neighboring properties where they pose the risk of harming local residents. Left alone, these contaminants can especially end up migrating into water supplies and causing residents to develop health problems.
Those who are harmed as a result of exposure to toxins stemming from industrial activity deserve to be compensated. Both federal and state laws are in place to ensure protections, and victims should work with an experienced attorney in holding responsible parties accountable.
Source: The Bellingham Herald, “Plan would move contaminants, cap others at Bellingham waterfront site,” Samantha Wohlfeil, July 15, 2014.