United States Environmental Protection Agency
Region X

Saturday, November 17, 2007
Jeffry Rodin, OSC


Final: Application of Soil Tackifier/Demobe
Swift Creek
Everson, WA
Latitude: 48.919035
Longitude: -122.303865

Site #:
Reporting Period:
11/15/2007 - 11/17/2007
D.O. #:
Start Date:
Response Authority:
Mob Date:
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NPL Status:
Incident Category:
Removal Action
Contract #

Site Description

A large landslide in the upper watershed of Sumas Mountain is a significant source of sediment in Swift Creek. The landslide material contains naturally occurring asbestos and elevated levels of metals.

Dredging has been used to maintain the Swift Creek channel to prevent flooding.  Dredged material has  historically been stockpiled on either side of the creek and offered to the public and others as free fill with a variety of uses.  Off-site use of dredged material from the banks of Swift Creek is now prohibited due to human health concerns about asbestos in the sediments.

The Whatcom County Health Department asked EPA to evaluate potential risks to human health from the stockpiled material.  EPA coordinated this evaluation with the Washington Department of Ecology, Washington Department of Health, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and Whatcom County.  EPA's sampling demonstrated that asbestos fibers in the dredge piles can get into a person's breathing zone during routine activities, such as raking and shoveling.

Because of potential health risks from exposure to asbestos, EPA recommended that people should no longer remove dredged materials from the site without protective gear, and that dredged materials should not be taken to other locations where people may be exposed to it.  The County has taken measures to restrict public access to the stockpiled material.

EPA has encouraged a multi-agency approach to assist the County with how to manage dredged sediments from Swift Creek.  There is no single agency with the authority and resources needed to address this complex situation.

In October 2007, the Whatcom County Public Works Department asked the EPA to help contain the asbestos contaminated dredged material on site.  EPA plans to reconfigure the existing stockpiles of asbestos contaminated materials and apply a soil tackifier (dust suppressant) on the material to reduce inhalation exposure to asbestos.  The use of a tackifier will help stabilize the dredging piles to minimize the amount of wind blown asbestos from potentially affecting the surrounding area.

Current Activities

  •   Thursday 11/15/2007
  •   The soil tackifier/dust suppressant arrived as ERRS completed the remaining grading and leveling on the south side of the creek.  ERRS created a temporary land bridge across the creek allowing water trucks access to apply the dust suppressant on the north side of the creek.  ERRS used two water trucks to complete application on the entire length of berm on the north side of the creek.

  •   Prior to the application of the dust suppressant, the START conducted co-located air sampling and air monitoring near the stream crossing and at the west end of the northern berm to monitor pre-treated conditions related to particulates and airborne asbestos.  

  •   Friday 11/16/2007
  •   ERRS completed grading and leveling on the entire length of the south berm and began bringing in crushed rock on the eastern side of the site to create an erosion barrier on that portion of the site should it be used occasionally for traffic to access the stream crossing.

  •   ERRS also continued application of the soil suppressant along the southern berm from the west side of the site to the stream crossing.  There were some minor delays on the second day of application due to the product congealing inside the water trucks.  The trucks were flushed and the product was filtered prior to mixing to prevent future problems.

  • Saturday 11/17/2007
  • ERRS finished the application of the soil tackifier along the southern berm.  START monitored airborne particulates for worker health and safety during application of the soil suppressant.

  • ERRS Began shut down access to the site and began decontamination of equipment.

  • Sunday 11/18/2007
  • ERRS completed decontamination of the equipment.

  • START demobilized from the site.

  • Monday 11/19/2007;  ERRS demobilized all equipment and personnel from the site.

Planned Removal Actions

There are currently no more planned EPA removal activities for the site.

Next Steps

EPA has completed the planned site stabilization efforts.

Key Issues

Whatcom County Public Works representative Paul Pittman praised EPA's work on site stabilization and commented that the efforts have greatly contributed to reducing the threat of breaching or flooding onto adjacent properties during the upcoming rainy season.

The county representative also noted that the erosion control and shoreline armoring features installed in the river during this initiative would be sufficient to maintain the current channel and may reduce overall sediment deposition.

Property owners expressed appreciated the EPA's efforts, and commented the regrading of the piles in preparation for the soil tackifier has contributed to making the stream banks more aesthetically pleasing.

Following the application of the soil stabilization and dust suppressant, the EPA offered the bulk product containers to the property owners for reuse.  One of the local residents made arrangements with other property owners to accept all containers and expressed gratitude to the EPA for offering these containers instead of disposing them.  This effort reduced overall disposal and transportation costs for the project.

Estimated Costs *
  Budgeted Total To Date Remaining % Remaining
Extramural Costs
ERRS - Cleanup Contractor $215,000.00 $101,890.00 $113,110.00 52.61%
RST/START $28,000.00 $9,000.00 $19,000.00 67.86%
Intramural Costs
USEPA - Direct (Region, HQ) $23,000.00 $3,000.00 $20,000.00 86.96%
Total Site Costs $266,000.00 $113,890.00 $152,110.00 57.18%

* The above accounting of expenditures is an estimate based on figures known to the OSC at the time this report was written. The OSC does not necessarily receive specific figures on final payments made to any contractor(s). Other financial data which the OSC must rely upon may not be entirely up-to-date. The cost accounting provided in this report does not necessarily represent an exact monetary figure which the government may include in any claim for cost recovery.