Swinomish Tribe cleaning up contaminated area near the mouth of Padilla Bay

Non-functioning creosote debris in marine waters is considered a contaminant. The Swinomish Tribe plans to remove about 100 creosote pilings near the mouth of Padilla Bay.

The Swinomish Tribe is cleaning up a former lime storage area by removing about 280 cubic yards of contaminated soil and 100 creosote wood pilings.

The contaminated site is adjacent to the Swinomish Channel near the mouth of Padilla Bay. When the channel was created in the 1930s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dumped dredge spoils on the Swinomish Reservation, converting an intertidal area of mudflats and marshes into uplands.

The area was leased by a non-tribal member from 1964 to 1989 when it was used to store lime and other products for agricultural use. The storage building was demolished in 2003, but a concrete slab, debris and a burn pile remain.

Contamination at the site includes bioaccumulative toxins that could end up in marine waters through surface water runoff into the Swinomish Channel.

The tribe intends to restore open space on the site, which is near the Swinomish casino, gas station, RV park, and a hotel under construction.

“Our economic development area is blighted by the debris at the lime storage site,” said tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby. “We need to remove the debris and contaminated soil to make the area safer for everyone. It’s a step toward undoing decades of environmental degradation.”

The tribe is doing the work with the help of a Brownfields cleanup grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Brownfields are abandoned or underused industrial and commercial sites where development is complicated by environmental contamination. EPA’s grants help minimize the environmental threat and enable the sites to be put to productive use. The tribe began its Brownfields cleanup program in 2008.

Last year, the tribe cleaned up the area near a salmon habitat restoration project at the McGlinn Jetty and Causeway, removing more than 400 cubic yards of debris and soil weighing more than 230 tons.

For more information, visit the Swinomish Tribe’s website or contact the Swinomish Environmental Management program at 360-466-2631, 7299.