GRANDVIEW - Authorities from the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE), Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) converged on 1501 Bethany Rd. near Grandview this past March. They were there to investigate allegations of an illegal dumping ground, and what they found was a two-acre plot with approximately 50 large containers and 100 smaller containers buried inside of nearly 10 pits at the site.
Soil and groundwater samples were taken at the site because it was believed much of what was contained and leaking from the containers unearthed were chemicals harmful to the environment and public health.
"Some containers had labels on them, so we tested for those specific chemicals," said Andy Smith, EPA on-scene coordinator, explaining oil was also visibly noticeable within the soil of the pits.
The lab results, shared yesterday at a meeting in Sunnyside, from the testing confirmed the presence of Dimethoate, Carbaryl, Glyphosphate, organic diesel and oil, as well as four other chemicals. However, those results show the problems seem to be isolated as of now.
"The samples showed hot spots," said Smith, explaining that although both Dimethoate and Carbaryl are both carcenogens, they would have to be consumed in mass amounts or over extended periods of time to cause concern.
The data hasn't been "quality assessed, quality controlled," but the agencies involved in the investigation felt confident with the information so far and felt it important to share with the public.
What will now begin is the clean-up process. The owner of the land, Double H Farms, has already contracted a consulting firm, experienced with such projects.
Because oil and organic diesel material were found to test at 2,800 milligrams (mg) per kilogram in the soil, 800 mg above state standards at one sample area, just below state standards in another sample area and below 1,000 mg/kg in four others, the soil will need to be excavated and disposed of at a legal site for toxic materials.
The oil and diesel products tested above state standards (500 micrograms per liter) in water samples and will be removed and cleaned up from the site.
"Once the bulk of the soil and products were out of the pits, we removed the source (of contamination)," said Smith, stating the clean-up process will keep the chemicals from causing further harm to the environment.
Because water dilutes the chemicals and only isolated incidents of chemicals were found, he said the agencies involved in the investigation will be monitoring the water within the area.
"But, we're not seeing it (contamination) in all the pits," Smith stated. It was explained that the state sets higher standards than the federal government because of the model toxic control act approved by Washington state voters 22 years ago.
As a result, the DOE and EPA are taking every precaution to ensure the health of the public and the environment.
Currently the concern to private wells is not high. "The suspicion is wells are at a deeper level," said Smith, stating the agencies would like to monitor those wells as a precautionary measure.
"If a (resident) is concerned, it is my advice they used bottled water until they are reassured of the safety of their water," said Barbara Trejo of the Department of Health.
Dick Granberg of the DOE's hazardous waste division in Yakima said there will be civil action taken against the property owners. "Violations of WAC 173.303 took place," he stated.
He said all violations, though, are still at the investigative level, and Double H Farms is cooperating with authorities.
As of now, the concern is cleaning up the site and furthering the investigative process to determine who is both responsible and liable.