Around the Sound: Custom work earns kudos

The stunning transformation of a toxic old mill site in Anacortes is getting some well-deserved attention, and not just from community members.

Custom Plywood team. Four people sitting at conference desk.
The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Washington recently presented a "Best in State" Gold Award for the Custom Plywood mill cleanup to consulting firm Hart Crowser and our Anacortes/Fidalgo Bay team in the Toxics Cleanup Program. The award was in the Social/Economic Sustainability category.

Ecology team members were (from left to right) Arianne Fernandez, Pete Adolphson, Hun Seak Park, and Sandra Caldwell.

Custom Plywood is one of several sites in the Anacortes area that is being cleaned up under the Puget Sound Initiative.

From toxic to terrific

Former mill cleanup site in water, gray sky, lots of wood and metal pilings along beach and water.

The Custom Plywood site in July 2013 ...

The mill site had been used for heavy industry since the late 1800s. After a 1992 fire destroyed the closed mill, broken concrete and twisted rebar littered the site. Soil contained heavy metals and petroleum products. 

Groundwater beneath the site was contaminated. Dioxins and wood debris smothered marine sediments. Old pilings coated with toxic creosote and the remains of old structures slowly deteriorated in the bay. 

In 2011, TCP led a cleanup of the site's 6 uplands acres. Contractors removed pilings and structures from the land, and dug up about 33,600 tons of contaminated soil. They brought in about 39,000 tons of clean soil to rebuild the land.

Cleaned up former mill site with debris free blue water and mountains in background.

... and in May 2014.

In 2013, cleanup focused on the shore and in-water issues. About 1,450 old pilings and 7,000 tons of fired-damaged structures and materials over the water were removed. About 8 acres of in-water sediment contaminated with dioxins and wood debris were dug up.

Fidalgo Bay was connected to a wetland area created in 2011. A jetty was extended and a new spit was added to prevent waves from eroding the shoreline. And the shoreline was almost tripled in length.

Environment, economy, community

Custom Plywood is another example of how cleanup work can benefit the environment, the economy and the community. Cleanup puts people to work, which provides for an immediate economic benefit because construction crews spend money in the local area. Cleanup clears the way for future economic activity.

Cleanup improves and protects the environment, which also protects the health of local residents. And communities benefit from economic opportunities and an improved quality of life.