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You can view our response to your comments on the corrective action permit and public participation plan.
Boeing has operated under a corrective action permit since 2006. This permit allows them to clean up contamination at the Auburn facility at 700 15th St. SW. As a matter of procedure, the permit needed to be reissued — this was not due to any new contamination at the site.
We held a public comment period from July 19 - Sept. 7, 2018. You can read the final Agreed Order (legal agreement), the permit and the public participation plan.
Boeing must further evaluate four of the 31 areas on their property.
Chemicals released may include low levels of petroleum hydrocarbons, cyanide, and metals (such as cadmium and copper).
Boeing collected hundreds of samples on and near the site, including Government Canal, the stormwater collection ditch on Chicago Avenue, the O Street wetland, the Outlet Collection stormwater ponds and collection ditch, the Auburn 400 ponds, Mill Creek, and various wetlands associated with Mill Creek, including the Auburn Environmental Park.
Testing showed that that these sites did not contain toxic chemicals at levels that would affect human health. We recommended that Boeing continue to evaluate groundwater across the site to confirm that contaminants are not reaching surface waters.
We recommended that Boeing continue to evaluate site-wide groundwater and address it in the feasibility study. Work is underway on that study, which is the next step in the cleanup process.
Groundwater moves slowly through soil, sand, and rocks. We're developing a strategy to clean up groundwater across the site. If contamination levels are above cleanup thresholds at specific locations, we will propose remediation or cleanup at those locations.
Following the remedial investigation, we are not recommending further indoor air evaluation. Indoor air will not be part of the feasibility study since there are no indications of health risks.
We reviewed air quality data from samples taken in residential and commercial areas over contaminated groundwater. The Department of Health reviewed results from air sampling data. None of the data indicates human health risks from breathing air in these locations. We will continue to evaluate the levels of volatile contaminants in groundwater during the cleanup. If levels rise, we could recommend additional testing to nearby homeowners to ensure that indoor air quality is safe.
Boeing documented and notified Ecology of a prior release of TCE at the facility.
Boeing started a pilot project in commercial Algona to test potential cleanup methods. As they gather information on methods that may be effective, they will propose solutions for cleanup of the impacted areas.
In parts of Auburn and Algona, groundwater is contaminated with a degreaser called trichloroethene (TCE) and its breakdown products. It is believed that the chemicals originated from Boeing’s Auburn facility. The contaminated groundwater flows north and northwest away from the Boeing property under portions of northeast Algona and southwest Auburn. To date, the chemicals in the contaminated groundwater have been found at low levels that are not expected to pose a risk to human health and the environment. If future testing found levels that posed an immediate risk, Ecology would direct Boeing to take action to protect residents in the area.
We don’t have reason to believe that the contamination came from a single release or spill. TCE was used at the facility from 1966 until the early 1980s, so Boeing believes the contamination occurred during this timeframe. Use of TCE at the facility was phased out by the mid-1980s, so there is no risk of additional contamination coming from the facility.
Boeing’s cleanup must follow Washington's cleanup process. This requires a thorough investigation of the contamination and of potential cleanup options. So far, the focus of the project has been the first phase of that process, called the Remedial Investigation, in which we studied the type and extent of the contamination. The size and complexity of the contaminated area added to the work needed to complete the investigation. The next step will be developing a feasibility study, which will review potential options to clean up the contamination. As this work goes on, Boeing continues to test both groundwater and surface water at the site under our supervision.
In 2002, Boeing conducted a pilot study to test bioremediation on a site beneath one of its buildings found to have very high levels of TCE. The pilot project reduced levels of TCE and related chemicals to within federal drinking water standards.
Yes. The water in homes and businesses in the area comes from public water systems that are regularly monitored by the Washington State Department of Health. The contamination discovered to date does not affect drinking water wells, and the groundwater in the area flows away from existing wells. Testing by the Department of Health has not detected any chemicals of concern. Private wells in the area are not monitored by the Department of Health. Contact Ecology if you have a private well.
Yes. We have studied garden sites in the area and found that the fruits and vegetables growing in them do not pose a threat to people. The chemicals do not build up in the plant or fruit tissue.
TCE and its breakdown products are colorless and odorless at the concentrations found in groundwater and surface water. The sheen of rainbow colored oil sometimes seen in ditches is likely from bacteria commonly found in wetlands.
Corrective Action Outreach Specialist