History of the Superfund Cleanup

highest concentration of creosote-deprived polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a carcinogen, in Puget Sound. The EPA ordered the Wyckoff Company to conduct further testing, and the Wyckoff/Eagle Harbor site was proposed for listing on the National Priorities List, which would make it eligible for long term federal funds used for cleanup under the Superfund program. The ABC brought a petition to Rep. John Miller requesting the site to be put on the National Priorities List.


Following a recommendation by the EPA, the Wyckoff Company’s plant was closed down in 1988. Even though the site wasn’t treating logs with creosote, contamination was still a threat to Eagle Harbor. It had been operating and contaminating for almost 90 years, and the surrounding ground was saturated with pollutants. There was a danger of the contamination seeping into Eagle Harbor or down into aquifers, which would put drinking water at risk.


By 1994, the plant’s disassembly began amid protests from locals interested in historic preservation. The disassembly process went on for several years, and a section of the pressure chambers was placed in front of the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. In 1999, the west dock was removed, which allowed an 1800-foot sheet pile containment wall to be erected the next year around what had once been the process area. To prevent further seeping into Eagle Harbor and Puget Sound, the sheet pile walls reached 40-100 feet underground.


It was soon clear that because of the magnitude of the contamination, the standard pump and filter cleanup method would take decades or even centuries to make the site clean. The EPA proposed a new thermal treatment in 1999 to speed up the process. An inner sheet pile wall was installed to enclose an acre-sized test section for the new method, which had been used successfully at a similar site in California. The treatment didn’t begin until 2002. Despite initial engineering issues, the concept of heating creosote to remove it from sediment worked better than expected. However, the EPA abandoned the new approach in 2004 because naphthalene, which was a product in creosote, clogged the removal pipes. Instead, the EPA has suggested the pump and filter operation continue, and the site be capped and contained.


By 1994, the EPA had removed 29,000 tons of creosote sludge, 100,000 gallons of oil, 430 square yards of asbestos, and a block of almost-pure naphthalene the size of a small car. In the following eight years, they also treated 370 million gallons of groundwater and removed 100,000 gallons of non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPL), a contaminant. However, it is estimated that approximately a million gallons of NAPL remain at the site. The city of Bainbridge Island believes that having the site clean would be in the best interest of its citizens. They have hired an attorney and environmental consultants. The City, the Parks District, Department of Ecology and ABC have met with Rep. Jay Inslee to discuss further plans for cleanup, and dialogue is continuing in an effort to determine the best approach clean up the site.

Thanks to increased environmental awareness beginning in the 1960’s, organizations and civilians began to take more notice of the contamination near Eagle Harbor. The Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state government filed reports of oil leaking into Eagle Harbor in the 1970’s. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Bainbridge Island’s civilians and local government began to take action. In 1984, the Kitsap Health District banned fishing in the harbor. The Association of Bainbridge Communities (ABC) held two town-hall meetings in 1985, calling for the monitoring of Eagle Harbor’s water quality. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) undertook the study. Their samples showed Eagle Harbor had the

An aerial photo of the Wyckoff Company before its closure