Rep. Gerry Pollet: Update on Radioactive Contamination at Magnuson Park

District 46 Representative Gerry Pollet.

On July 9, Rep. Gerry Pollet, 46th District legislator, spoke at the Meadowbrook Community Council meeting with updates on local issues. Of particular concern to the audience was Magnuson Park’s radioactive contamination around Arena Sports and other buildings. The primary areas of contamination are in and around Buildings 2, 11, and the two-story building attached to Building 27 along with soil and parking lot surfaces around these buildings. Arena Sports and the Magnuson Athletic Club occupy Building 27. Building 2 used to be the indoor soccer facility. All indications are that areas currently used by the public in Building 27 are safe. Contaminants include Radium and highly radioactive Strontium and Cesium. These give off gamma radiation which can penetrate through layers of dirt or through pavement. Radium, which emits alpha radiation, is very dangerous if ingested, as when a child eats soil or gets soil in a cut.

The source of radioactive contamination at Magnuson is paint which was used on aircraft instruments at the former Sand Point Naval Air Station. Because the Magnuson Park site is not designated a federal “Superfund” site and is no longer owned by the federal government (it is owned by Seattle Parks), the state’s more protective Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) applies. However, the Navy asserts that it can clean up at Magnuson under federal protocols, with weaker standards than MTCA. The Navy’s plan would leave contamination levels in soil, sediments and groundwater over 150 times above our state’s cancer risk cleanup standard. In addition, the Navy has not tested key pieces of the drain system or Lake Washington’s sediments where the lines discharge, despite very high levels of contamination in parts of the system.

Jurisdictional issues have resulted from the fact that the site is now owned by the City of Seattle (Parks) and though the Dept. of Ecology (state agency) is supposed to enforce testing and cleanup, the Navy (federal) has not prepared or provided public documentation. The public comment period has been extended to July 25, 2013, though no meetings have been scheduled to answer questions.

Rep. Gerry Pollet (left) and legislative aide Ryan Strong (right) answered questions at the Meadowbrook Community Council meeting on July 9, 2013.

Before becoming a state legislator, Rep. Pollet was executive director of Heart of America Northwest, an environmental action agency, so he is knowledgeable about environmental contaminates. Rep. Pollet encourages everyone to submit comments to help ensure that the state Departments of Ecology and Health, and Seattle Parks will hold the Navy accountable as the law requires. State law requires an Environmental Impact Statement addressing the costs and benefits of alternative cleanup plans with more protective standards. Federal law also requires an analysis of alternatives. Let the parties know that you are requesting such a document with the results of a thorough investigation, including groundwater, lake sediments and other areas. Your comments can include requests to hold a legitimate public meeting; post proper warning signage at the park; urge that our state’s cleanup standards are followed; investigate drain lines and outfalls to the lake; and release an Impact Statement.

How to submit a comment: Send an email with your comments to: ching-pi.wang@ecy.wa.gov and leslie.yuenger@navy.mil  Please cc gerry.pollet@leg.wa.gov and Mayor McGinn http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/citizen_response.htm by July 25, 2013.

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