Cleaning up: A riverside cleanup just around the bend


Aerial photo map shows a spot marked along a 180 degree river bend.

The Anacortes water treatment plant property sits along the Skagit River's big bend around Mount Vernon.

Aptly named, Riverbend Road follows the inside curve where the Skagit River sweeps 180 degrees at Mount Vernon. The city of Anacortes, 14 miles away, draws its water supply and operates a treatment plant along this bend.

But, this cleanup story is not about Anacortes’ water! It meets all state and federal health standards. Instead, it’s about part of the outer walls of the city’s old treatment plant – decommissioned in 2013 when the city opened a new facility on the same property.

Outside walls

Exterior coatings on two parts of the old plant contained PCBs, polychlorinated bi-phenols. Once commonly used in commercial building coatings, some of the toxic material was absorbed a few millimeters into the concrete walls and leached into the top inches of soil directly adjacent to those walls. PCBs were not used in the plant’s interior.

Diagram shows how demolition would include removal of contaminated outer walls and adjoining soils.

Demolition of the former Anacortes water plant could include cleanup and removal of contaminated outer walls and adjoining soil.

The city has completed a study, with a report known as a remedial investigation, that locates the specific areas affected by this contamination, and has evaluated the alternatives, in a feasibility study, to safely clean up and dispose of the contaminated soil and concrete when the facility is demolished.

Comments welcome

We’re inviting the public to review both reports and to comment, through April 14, 2020. After public comment, documents will be finalized, forming the basis for developing a cleanup action plan. That plan will also be subject to public review and comment.

Online public meeting

We will hold an online public meeting to provide more information and answer questions:

Information and resources:

By: Larry Altose, communications manager, Northwest Regional Office