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Officials: “Emergency Phase” of Puget Sound Energy Diesel Spill Near Crystal Mountain is Over….Long-Term Cleanup Continues

Release Date: 12/19/2006
Contact Information: Mark MacIntyre/EPA /206-553-7302 Dorothy Bracken/Puget Sound Energy/888-831-7250 Kim Schmanke/Ecology /360-407-6239

(Seattle, Wash.- Dec. 19, 2006) -- Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and Puget Sound Energy (PSE) today announced the end of the emergency phase of cleanup operations for the 18,000 gallon diesel spill discovered in early November at the PSE back-up electric generator located near the Crystal Mountain Ski Area. Activities at the spill site will now focus on the long-term cleanup phase.

The Unified Command (EPA, USFS, Ecology and PSE), who are overseeing the emergency phase wrap-up, also announced the results of extensive monitoring of water supply wells, which found no detection of spill-related contaminants. Based on the sampling of Silver Creek and the water wells, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) -- in consultation with the Washington Department of Health and Ecology -- concluded that homeowners located in the lower Silver Creek area may resume drinking water from their taps. PSE has provided bottled drinking water to local residents for the past six weeks as a precautionary measure while the wells were being tested. They will soon notify homeowners about the drinking water results by posting fliers on each residence and cabin.

Since the Nov. 3 discovery of the spill, PSE and its contractors, under oversight by state and federal officials, have worked continuously to recover as much diesel as possible from soil and ground water. More than 1,100 truck loads of diesel-contaminated soil have been hauled off-site for disposal and a ground water interceptor trench has been installed along Silver Creek in the vicinity of the spill. Ground water captured in the trench is being processed through a water treatment system so that no detectable levels of the spilled diesel are discharged into Silver Creek.

The long-term cleanup, which will be monitored by Ecology, EPA and U.S. Forest Service, will involve additional site analysis, removal of contaminated soil, continued collection and treatment of contaminated ground water and monitoring of Silver Creek. A cleanup plan will be developed to address the area under and immediately surrounding the generator station that was impacted by the spill.

PSE is also working with state and federal officials to make changes at the generator station to prevent any future spills.

To date the following cleanup work has been accomplished:

  • 8,707 gallons of diesel has been recovered by pumping pooled areas, absorbing it into pads and excavating contaminated soil;
  • 1,143 truck loads of contaminated soil have been hauled off-site;
  • 34 ground water monitoring wells have been drilled;
  • 1,419 soil and water samples have been collected;
  • a 150-foot ground water interceptor trench was constructed;
  • a water treatment system to treat collected ground was installed and operating so that no detectable levels of diesel are being discharged