How do you get a million gallons of tar out of the ground?

A panel of experts will be asking this very question during a three-day meeting about the future of the Wyckoff Superfund site.

Called together by the state Department of Ecology, the eight-member group will explore new ways to remove – rather than just contain – the estimated million gallons of creosote and other chemical compounds that remain in the site’s soil and groundwater.

The group will hold a public meeting on Wednesday at IslandWood to share some of the ideas under discussion. It’s from 7 to 9 p.m.

“There are environmental consequences to leaving creosote on-site,” said Tim Nord, Ecology’s manager of land- and aquatics-cleanup. “And there’s a huge cost of running the site for a hundred years.”

Ecology is slated to takeover the site’s management from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has administered the site for more than two decades.

After failing to find a workable solution for extracting large amounts of contaminants, the EPA has settled on a cap-and-contain method for the site.

But Ecology says such a plan carries too much risk and could carry maintenance costs of $1 million a year for as long as the contaminants remain a danger to humans and the environment.

Ecology’s group of pollution experts are slated to meet on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The group includes academics, project managers and environmental engineers from from seven states.

Some members on the group helped with the experimental thermal extraction system the EPA tried at Wyckoff seven years ago. The project worked almost too well, successfully vaporizing large amounts of material that overloaded and damaged the system’s equipment.

Nord believes thermal extraction technologies and other recent innovations should be explored at the Wyckoff site.

“This is one of the toughest sites in the state,” he said. “We’re going to spend two and a half days asking the question ‘is there anything else we can do?'”

For more info, check out Ecology’s new website for the Wyckoff project:

And here’s a cut-and-paste list of the group’s members:

Ralph S. Baker, Ph.D., TerraTherm Inc., Fitchburg, MA – He has over 30 years of experience and co-founded this firm, which specializes in in-ground remediation technologies to treat contaminated soil and water.

Michael D. Basel, Ph.D., P.E., Haley & Aldrich Inc., Lenexa, KS – He has over 20 years experience in the private sector in applying innovative technologies to remediating wood-treating facilities.

Eva L. Davis, Ph.D., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ada, OK – She leads EPA work group on effectiveness of containment remedies for sites with non-aqueous phaseliquids, such as the Wyckoff site. She is experienced in a range of thermal remediation techniques, including evaluation of earlier Wyckoff pilot steam injection effort.

Edward C. Hicks, P.E., Black & Veatch, Alpharetta, GA – With 24 years experience in engineering design and construction, he focuses on remediation of sites with challenges similar to the Wyckoff site.

Michael C. Kavanaugh, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, Malcolm Pirnie Inc., Emeryville, CA – His decades of experience in environmental engineering includes work on three wood-treating facilities and many other challenging sites.

Frank B. Kellogg III, DCI Environmental Inc., Savage, MN – His firm focuses on source removal at remedial sites, using batch-plant thermal treatment.

Ken Preston, General Construction Co., Seattle – The Bainbridge Island resident brings over 30 years experience in construction in marine and near-shore environments, plus a deep familiarity with Wyckoff site conditions.

Kent S. Udell, Ph.D., University of Utah and (Emeritus) University of California, Berkeley, Salt Lake City, UT – He advised EPA on innovative thermal technologies and brings broad experience nationally in thermal technologies.

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