Order Spurs Hazmat Flood Risk Reduction in Kent, Washington

An order issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will help responders get hazardous chemicals promptly cleaned up and removed from a former metal finishing business in Kent, Wash.

The facility lies within the Green River’s active flood plain and is likely to flood should Howard Hanson dam releases exceed channel capacity downstream. All American Metal Finishing, which operated at the site from 2007 to 2009, closed its doors with a large volume of toxic chemicals, metals and other wastes remaining on the premises. No waste has been shipped from the site for treatment, storage or disposal since December 2008.

On Nov. 3, 2009, in response to a report by Washington Department of Ecology, EPA along with the Kent Fire Department and All American Metal Finishing representatives conducted a removal assessment at the facility. All agreed that prompt action was necessary to reduce the risk to the community.

Due to the volume of waste and the proximity to the Green River, EPA issued the owner of the company and the owner of the property a Unilateral Administrative Order to clean up the facility. The facility operator and owner of the property have agreed to perform the work with EPA oversight.

According to Lori Cohen, acting director of EPA’s Superfund Cleanup Office in Seattle, Wash., the company owner and the owner of the property have agreed to step up and take necessary and appropriate action to reduce risks posed by the lingering waste and hazardous chemicals.

“We don’t have time to wait on this cleanup,” said EPA’s Cohen. “We’re satisfied that the parties will now do what needs to be done and reduce the risk to the community. With our oversight, this will be a Superfund cleanup that doesn’t require taxpayers to foot the bill.”

Under the Order, the parties will:

  • identify all unknown or uncharacterized substances to determine whether the materials are solid or hazardous wastes;
  • evaluate all wastes for bulking (combining) compatibility and suitability for recycling and disposal; and
  • pack, label, transport, recycle or dispose of all solid and hazardous wastes.

EPA expects the work to be completed within the next few months.