Tests inconclusive at illegal dump site

GRANDVIEW - After initial testing of soil samples from an illegal dumping ground on the property at 1501 Bethany Road north of Grandview, Joye Redfield-Wilder of the Washington Department of Ecology said, "Initial lab results were for a specific contaminant and not conclusive."

She said comprehensive tests will be undertaken. More than 30 liquid and 10 soil samples will be sent to a Renton laboratory to be analyzed for suspected pesticides and other chemical compounds that could potentially be toxic.

Redfield-Wilder said the samples were taken from approximately 50 large containers (40 or more gallons) and more than 100 smaller containers which have been uncovered on the nearly two-acre section of land being investigated.

The property spans 190-acres and, "With most of the planned excavation completed at the Grandview chemical burial site work will be temporarily suspended beginning Friday evening, March 27. Until then, state and federal authorities continue to inspect, inventory and analyze the more than 100 discovered drums and containers to determine their contents and decide how to dispose of them properly," said Department of Ecology officials.

Ecology, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington Department of Agriculture have partnered with one another in the investigation.

The lab results from this past week's testing are expected to be concluded "in the next week or so," according to Redfield-Wilder.

The Environmental Protection Agency on-scene coordinator and spokesman for the operation said once the lab has provided the results, the agencies involved in the investigation will decide how they will move forward.

"We've been getting a lot of information from a variety of sources that could influence where we look next," he explained.

Also, enforcement action is yet to be determined because the results from the lab are necessary to determine violations. Fines could add up to $10,000 per violation per day in addition to possible criminal charges. It is yet to be determined who will be held responsible for the illegal disposal site.

The Department of Ecology has received calls regarding well water because items like computer monitors and other potential environmental hazards have been discovered near the water table, which is approximately six to seven feet deep. Soil at the illegal dumping ground has been reported to have a black ooze, and private well owners with concerns regarding the groundwater possibly being contaminated are encouraged to have their well water tested, as is anyone using wells.

The Department of Health offers general advice to all landowners. That agency instructs private well owners to have their water tested periodically for nitrate and coliform bacteria. The safe drinking water standard is no more than 10 parts per million for nitrates.

Because it is still unknown the extent of contamination at the Bethany Road site, workers are currently in the process of securing and stabilizing the area. Fences have been installed and a security guard will help prevent access to the open pits.

Work at the site is expected to resume sometime near April 15. At that time, authorities hope to begin restoration and clean-up of the land.


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