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K2 enters state’s Voluntary Cleanup Program
By NATALIE MARTIN
K2 Sports has taken the first step in obtaining a No Further Action (NFA) determination from the state regarding environmental contamination at its former factory on Vashon Highway.
In late May, K2 formally entered the state Department of Ecology’s Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP). The company is now awaiting an opinion from the state on the condition of the property, the next step in a long process that could end in the state issuing K2 an NFA letter, meaning the contamination has either been cleaned or addressed to state standards.
The move comes months after the Backbone Campaign, a local political action group, raised concern over the environmental condition of the K2 site and circulated a petition asking that K2 obtain an NFA letter from the state before selling its property. At the time of the petition, the company was under contract to sell the building to a marijuana edibles company. That sale has since fallen through, but the petition garnered nearly 500 online signatures.
The Backbone Campaign announced on Facebook on July 9 that K2 had entered the VCP, calling it “another victory.”
The other victory apparently came last month when the King County Council took action to assure the K2 site obtains an NFA letter before it is put to any other use. The council added a clause to Vashon’s town plan that any properties listed as contaminated by the state Department of Ecology (DOE) must obtain an NFA letter before being granted a change of use building permit for the site. Councilmember Joe McDermott said the amendment was added in response to community concerns about the environmental conditions at K2.
The K2 site is listed as contaminated by the state due to diesel oil that leaked into the soil there from a tank that was removed in 2008. However, Bill Moyer, director of the Backbone Campaign, and other islanders have voiced concern that there could be additional undocumented contamination at the site and have questioned whether pollution from the former ski manufacturing plant could eventually end up in the groundwater.
After starting the petition, Moyer went public with a report from the Issaquah company Farallon Consulting, which identifies what Farallon considers to be gaps in testing by the companies that did previous environmental assessments there. The report says it expects the DOE would require additional environmental testing at the site before giving an NFA determination.
Dale Myers, a DOE site manager who is now handling K2, called the Farallon report “well written” but said it was too soon to comment further. He said the site and is currently under review and the state will eventually issue an opinion letter, something which normally happens within 90 days of a property owner entering the VCP. The opinion letter, which Myers called “guidelines on a path forward,” is one step in a long process that he said could eventually lead to a state-approved environmental cleanup. Since the program is voluntary, an owner can withdraw at any time without penalty.
K2 said in February, when there was a pending purchase of the property, that it intended to seek an NFA letter from the state. In a letter to the King County Council and Executive, Anthony De Rocco, then K2’s president and CEO, called K2 “legally and morally bound to take responsibility for adverse impact on the environment, when those impacts are identified by state or federal agencies with appropriate jurisdiction.”
Donna Musa, a site hazard assessment coordinator with DOE’s toxics cleanup program, said K2 applied to enter the Voluntary Cleanup Program about three months later, on May 29.
Tim Petrick, who replaced De Rocco as K2’s president, said the company is currently waiting for further direction from DOE and still considers itself responsible for any environmental issues at the facility.
When asked if K2 recently entered the VCP because of the planned town plan amendment, Petrick said K2 simply wants to sell the property.
“We’ve been trying to sell it to someone since we moved off the island. … We’d like to see it go to some good use,” he said.
Moyer, with the Backbone Campaign, said he was happy that K2 entered the VCP and he hopes that the Farallon report, which he also submitted to the state, will be used in DOE’s review of the property.
He noted that even if K2 drops out of the program at some point, there will still be a review of the site and of K2’s own environmental testing, which is what the Backbone Campaign has been hoping to see. He said he is anxiously awaiting DOE’s opinion letter.
“We haven’t pushed for a process that’s unreasonable,” he said. “We’ve done basically what any home buyer or bank would do to understand ... that whatever happened there, that the community and the potential purchaser understand what they’re getting.”