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K2 says it will address pollution, has not yet taken action with DOE

By NATALIE MARTIN

The company that owns the K2 building says it will address known contamination at the site, but it has not yet taken steps to get the property removed from the state Department of Ecology’s (DOE) cleanup list, according to a DOE official.

After a local organization, the Backbone Campaign, recently called attention to the environmental condition at the K2 site, the president of K2 Sports, Anthony De Rocco, sent a letter to the King County executive and county councilmembers. In the letter dated Feb. 24, De Rocco said K2 and its parent company, Jarden, would take steps to secure a No Further Action (NFA) determination from DOE with regard to the only known contamination at levels requiring cleanup at the site — diesel oil that leaked into the soil from a tank that was removed in 2008. The department issues NFA letters to property owners when contamination has either been cleaned or addressed to state standards.

De Rocco sent another letter about the property, which it intends to sell to a company that will make marijuana products there, to DOE. In that letter he said K2 and Jarden are “cognizant of our obligation to take appropriate action and we are committed to doing so.”

Donna Musa, a site hazard assessment coordinator with DOE’s toxics cleanup program, said she saw the letter, but so far neither company has moved to enroll in the state’s Voluntary Cleanup Program, the only way to obtain such an NFA determination.

“They didn’t give us any details going forward,” Musa said. “Until we get that application, we have no indication that they intend to do it.”

De Rocco could not be reached for comment, but Lorelei Borland, vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs at Jarden, said the company does still plan to address the issue. Based on advice from environmental consultants, she said, Jarden hopes to obtain a type of conditional NFA determination from DOE. Since the oil that couldn’t be cleaned a few years ago is under the building’s foundation, Jarden believes it doesn’t pose a risk and that DOE may give the company permission to leave the area alone unless the building is eventually demolished.

Should Jarden not be able to obtain such a conditional NFA letter, Borland said, it will enter the Voluntary Cleanup Program,

“It’s unlikely Ecology would require us to take a building down for a small amount of diesel soil,” she said.

At the Backbone Campaign, director Bill Moyer said he is still demanding that K2 and Jarden do additional environmental testing at the site to determine if any cleanup is necessary there. Should the companies not work toward obtaining an NFA letter that applies to the entire site, as a Backbone Campaign petition calls for, he will consider expanding the current petition to a nationwide one.

“It’s not like we want to find something. We want to properly characterize the site,” Moyer said.

Borland declined to comment on Moyer’s petition but said she stood by the environmental testing that has been done at the K2 property.

“I’m very comfortable with their report,” she said.

Meanwhile, another state official has said that any contamination at the K2 site would likely not pose a threat to Vashon’s drinking water. In an email from Kitty Weisman, a program manager with the state Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water, to Water District 19 commissioner Jenny Bell and other state officials, Weisman describes how the aquifer under K2 that feeds the district’s main well and is 600 feet deep. She also says geological features would likely prevent any contamination from making it into the aquifer.

Weisman could not be reached for comment. In an email to The Beachcomber, Bell noted that more shallow private wells exist nearby and said that Water District 19 “continues to assess the situation with each piece of new info.”

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