Kent hires consultant to assess contaminated sites

The city of Kent awarded a $385,000 contract to Stantec Consultant Services to conduct a community-wide assessment for contaminated sites.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the city $385,000 in grants in June to inventory, assess and prioritize contaminated sites in an effort to redevelop the properties.

Stantec has more than 190 offices in North America, including Seattle, and four locations internationally. The City Council approved the contract on Dec. 11.

According to staff reports, "the city will use these funds to complete a community-wide inventory and prioritization of brownfield sites within the city, to perform up to 16 Phase I and 10 Phase II environmental site assessments on identified sites, to complete additional site investigation and remedial action plans for select sites, and to perform community outreach and education related to brownfields."

A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land and both improves and protects the environment.

A Phase I property assessment includes a historical investigation and preliminary site inspection. A Phase II assessment is more in-depth and includes sampling activities to identify the types and concentrations of contaminants and the areas to be cleaned.

City staff projected it would take about three years to complete the project.

"It's not about a risk to the public," said Josh Hall, city economic development specialist, during an interview in June about the EPA grants. "It's more about identifying idle property and trying to get the property back on the tax base and get development happening."

Borden Chemical operated a plant from 1956 to 2001 on First Avenue where the Kent Station shopping mall now stands. The state Department of Ecology (DOE) listed Borden as one of the worst hazardous waste sites. Clean up efforts put the property back on the market. The shopping mall opened in 2005.

"That's a great example of brownfield redevelopment," Hall said about Kent Station. "You take a site that has chemicals, clean it up and redevelop it."

Stantec has worked with other cities on hazardous substance and petroleum brownfield sites, including three cities in Washington.

"Stantec showed a vast understanding of Kent’s goals and objectives and has vast experience in assessment and redevelopment of brownfield sites," according to city staff reports. "Stantec was selected from six other consultants."

The city's selection committee consisted of Hall; Erin George, planner; and Kelly Peterson, environmental conservation supervisor.

The city has no formal inventory of brownfield sites. A review of environmental databases maintained by the state DOE documents 1,047 potentially impacted sites in the city, including 582 hazardous waste generators, 294 underground storage tank sites, 136 leaking underground storage sites and three Superfund sites. The EPA identified Superfund sites as the worst contaminated properties in the nation.

Hall said the Superfund sites in Kent have already been cleaned up and are monitored, including the closed Kent Highlands Landfill at Military Road and South 240th Street and the closed Midway Landfill at 248000 Pacific Highway S.

Sites to be analyzed could be anything from old gas stations or laundromats or other sites that might not appear to be brownfield sites but consultants will find out if there is hazardous material or petroleum there, Hall said.

After the studies begin, community outreach will be part of the project so that residents or businesses near a site can find out what was at the property and give input about possible redevelopment of the site. City officials will form a Brownfield Advisory Board of residents and business people once specific sites are identified.

The EPA estimates there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the United States. The agency started the grant program in 1995 to help communities find and assess contaminated properties and eventually clean up the sites.



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