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Clean-up nearly complete at former Carnation plant

The past week has brought more indications of progress on cleaning up the former Carnation plant in Sunnyside at the corner of South First Street and Lincoln Avenue. One took place last week with installation of a sign updating the public on the efforts. The other was last night, Monday, when Port of Sunnyside commissioners gave the go-ahead for Time Oil Company to access the property and wrap up its portion of the clean-up. Jed Crowther is the port's property, development and property manager, and he said Time Oil operated a gas station near the Carnation property several years ago, which contaminated a portion of the former plant property. The Seattle-based company has since been working on cleaning up the site and had an agreement with U.S. Bank to access the Carnation property. The bank released the Carnation property to the port last December, requiring Time Oil to obtain permission from the Port of Sunnyside to access the site, which was granted last night. Crowther says Time Oil is nearly finished with its part of the clean-up effort. As for the sign, it updates the property as a Brownfield site, which are abandoned or under-used properties where there may be environmental contamination. Redevelopment efforts are often hindered by the liability for the clean-up or the uncertainty of its costs. Brownfield sites that aren't cleaned up represent lost opportunities for economic development and for other community improvements. The Carnation plant, for example, was previously the site of two wineries before fiscal and contamination issues hindered development. With grant funding in hand, the port last year contracted with Vancouver-based consultant Maul Foster Alongi to first determine the cost effectiveness of cleaning up the property for future business or industrial uses. Since then, the port has obtained another grant for the clean-up. Initial estimates pegged completion of the Carnation clean-up in 2015, but Crowther says the work will likely be completed this year. Crowther said Maul Foster Alongi's research indicated the contamination problem was not as severe as first believed. "So, the clean-up timeline will probably advance." Crowther says soil contamination at the former Carnation plant site is all from offsite, or neighboring properties. Besides removing soil contaminated with lead, for example, Crowther says clean-up crews will also need to inject chemicals into the soil at Carnation to break down contamination that originated from a nearby dry cleaning business. With clean-up apparently on the fast track, Crowther says the next step will be to eventually demolish the Carnation plant itself and clear the site for future development. He says a structural analysis of the building showed that it was unstable. Even so, the port hopes to be able to save some of the brick from the Carnation fa├žade and preserve the landmark water tower. "It could be saved as a site enhancement as a historical piece as long as it doesn't disrupt a logical layout," Crowther says of the tower. "We have some layouts that we're confident it can be a feature." Crowther says the port will retain ownership of the Carnation site and lease it for future use once the site is cleaned and the old plant demolished. The port has garnered $500,000 in grant funds to date for the Carnation site, and Crowther says it is hopeful for additional grants to help with demolishing costs. While the immediate past has been checkered at best for the Carnation site, its future looks bright. "We have some parties interested in the site that match up with food processing," Crowther says, noting the property is already linked to the port's industrial wastewater system. "We've got a good, optimistic plan in place. We think it's going to be a good improvement for the corner."

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