Daily Archives: August 15, 2009

$3 million to clean Wyckoff lost in standoff between state, feds


While talking to the EPA about a recent health risk assessment of the Pritchard Park-Wyckoff Superfund site (see previous post), I learned that most of a recent $5 million stimulus grant for cleaning and containing the contaminated area would have to be returned.

The reasons are complicated, but it basically comes down to the state and the feds not seeing eye-to-eye on what to do with the site and its million gallons of creosote and the millions of dollars needed to maintain it.

Read all about it here.

Where NOT to play at Pritchard Park


A recent report on the health risks posed by the Pritchard Park-Wyckoff Superfund site confirms what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been saying for years: the area and its beaches are safe, but not perfectly safe.

The report, which was concluded by the U.S. Department of Health late last month, notes that the park’s forested uplands and most of the west beach, which includes the large stretch of sandy and gravel popular with visitors, are “safe for unlimited normal recreational activities such as hiking, digging, sunbathing, playing ball, etc.”

In other areas, care should be taken – especially for children, who are more easily harmed by the industrial contaminants at the site.

A tidal area of the west beach where sand and rock covers a large plastic sheet should not be disturbed. The sheet separates contaminated sediment below the beach from the clean sand capping the area.

The assessment repeats the EPA warning that children and dogs should not visit the east beach. The east beach is the section of Bill Point that faces Seattle. It is there that toxic creosote is actively seeping from the beach.

“The East Beach is not safe for use by children at this time due to contaminant levels in the
sediment,” the report states.

The report also advises visitors to avoid touching the muddy sediments on Bill Point’s north shoal. The shoal is the tidal section of the beach at the northernmost point of the park directly above the fenced Superfund area.

If you touch the sediments, the report advises hand-washing as a precaution.

I marked the areas of concern in the map above.

You can download a pdf of the report by clicking here.

So, how do you remember where to go and not go next time you visit Pritchard Park?

Speaking only for myself and my family, our general rule of thumb is to keep our shoes on and our hands off the tidal areas. And we steer clear of the east beach (even though it boasts a killer view of the city). Maybe our precautions are a bit much, but considering that the east beach’s contaminants are free-flowing and that the west beach springs creosote leaks from time to time, we figure it’s better to be safe than contaminated.