Firefighters and paramedics responded Jan. 4 in Kent to a hazardous chemical leak in a tank at Univar, 8201 S. 212th St. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire

Firefighters and paramedics responded Jan. 4 in Kent to a hazardous chemical leak in a tank at Univar, 8201 S. 212th St. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire

One person taken to hospital after Kent hazardous chemical leak

Five others evaluated on scene Jan. 4 at Univar warehouse along South 212th Street

Paramedics transported one person to a local hospital and five others were evaluated on scene after a hazardous chemical release Wednesday, Jan. 4 at a warehouse in Kent.

Puget Sound Fire and King County Medic One responded at about 2:05 p.m. to Univar, 8201 S. 212th St., according to an email from Puget Sound Fire spokesperson Pat Pawlak. One person evaluated by paramedics was an employee from Univar and the other five were from a neighboring business.

“The tank depressurized right after the initial release, which stopped the leak,” Pawlak said.

Univar Solutions is a nationwide wholesale distributor of chemical products; it stores, packages, and distributes chemical products to meet customer needs. Univar Solutions (formerly Van Waters & Rogers and Univar USA Inc.) has operated at the site since 1974, according to the state Department of Ecology website.

The Univar facility in Kent has a warehouse, office, dock, and parking areas on an 11-acre site, surrounded by other commercial and industrial properties.

Contaminated site

The Department of Ecology is familiar with Univar because of contamination from waste management activities and accidental chemical releases. Studies that started in the 1990s showed that soil in two areas of the eastern portion of the site are contaminated with organic chemicals and chlorinated compounds, according to state documents and a June 2, 2022 update.

“Groundwater is also contaminated,” according to the state report. “Most of the groundwater contamination remains located beneath the property. Some contaminants in the deeper part of the aquifer have flowed north under 212th Street and beneath an adjacent industrial property.”

The Department of Ecology issued an agreed order (a legal agreement) requiring Univar to plan and implement a site cleanup. In 2007, Ecology selected the preferred cleanup activities from the Feasibility Study report.

Since 2008, Univar has been implementing the Cleanup Action Plan, which includes:

• Treatment of contaminated areas using enhanced reductive dechlorination.

• Monitored natural attenuation for treatment of the down-gradient groundwater plume.

• Institutional controls to assure long-term protection of human health and the environment.

• An environmental covenant placed on the property. This covenant is required since contaminants in excess of cleanup standards will remain on the property after the cleanup action.

• Treatment of the source areas and ongoing groundwater sampling. The sampling shows how much groundwater contamination is still present. The sampling information is also used to assess the effectiveness of treatment, so it can be adjusted as necessary.

“Univar is working to complete their environmental covenant,” according to the June 2022 update. “The covenant puts use restrictions on the property to protect human health and the environment. Univar will complete a 5-year review to assess how well the cleanup is working. That 5-year review will go out for public comment in 2023.”


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