During the Port of Olympia Commission meeting on Mon., Nov. 8, community members expressed health and safety concerns against the proposed Panattoni development on the Port’s New Market Industrial Campus.
During yesterday’s hearing, several residents shared that the proposed development imposes health and safety concerns, specifically if the development were to make use of deep-injection wells. The speakers are worried that such development may potentially contaminate Tumwater’s drinking water.
These concerns were part of the commission’s deliberation to pass an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) between the Port of Olympia, and the City of Tumwater. Once approved, the ILA will determine the key terms of the agreement for Panattoni to develop 199-acre of the New Market Industrial campus.
In a presentation, Business Development Director Allyn Roe assured the public that Panattoni has no plans to use deep-injection wells. He also noted that the proposal is compliant with the state’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.
Port Commissioner E.J. Zita disagreed. She believed that it is necessary for the Port to provide assurance that this type of well would be prohibited. She also urged the staff to include this provision in the ILA agreement.
Commissioner Bill McGregor said that there is no need to add the prohibition since there are already laws in place which prevents the use of deep injection wells.
Prohibited and permitted UIC wells
According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, underground injection wells are structures that allow fluids, such as wastewater, to flow into the ground.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies several types of UIC wells. Classes 1, 3, and the majority of the Class 4 wells are prohibited under state laws since they carry toxic substances such as sulfur, uranium, and other radioactive wastes.
Class 5 wells, commonly known as underground control injection wells, discharge fluids above the groundwater and are commonly permitted.These shallow wellsinclude dry wells, and French drains.
Port Executive Director Sam Gibboney said she believes that it is too early for this type of consideration. She explained that the plan would have to undergo stormwater approval during the permitting process.
“Stormwater designs and plans are submitted at the point of building permit and land use applications, they are not part of this development agreement. Nor does this development agreement include the prohibition of a very common type of stormwater management,” Gibboney said.
Roe also addressed some concerns regarding potentially unsuitable or dangerous materials in the area, such as bark storage. The business director assured residents that the proposal has complied with the guidelines provided under the Model Toxins Control Act.
Commissioner Zita remains unconvinced. She asked Roe whether he is concerned about the DaPaul property, located at the East of I5 and West of Kimmie Street. “DePaul has a lot of bark, they are a de-barking facility, and a chipping facility,” Zita said.
Roe shared that he is not concerned about the DaPaul property since they are on lease and has the obligation to fully clean these sites. “You’re banking on someone fully cleaning the site?” Zita responded.
In addition, she also asked Roe whether he is aware that there is a thick layer of plastic found on the site. She asserted that the presence of a plastic “was confirmed by an independent hydrologist when the Port of Olympia did our 2015 Master Plan for the New Market Industrial Campus.”
In the public hearing, another resident shared his concerned about the loss of 200 acres of forest lands. In response, Roe explained, “I just want to clarify this area is not entirely treed.” He also claimed that the site would retain and replace a lot of trees. Roe noted that additional trees would be planted between the New Market Campus and the Bush Middle School which would act as buffer zones.
In the meeting, Zita also accused Commission Chair Joe Downing of imposing his own rules. “You are making up rules to suit your purpose. One round of round robin? That’s a new rule.”
Despite the testimonies at the public hearing, the Port Commissioners approved the ILA in a 2-1 vote. Commissioner Zita voted no, and commented that “there are many unanswered questions.”
Downing tried to assure the public. “Just like other aspects of the agreement, I assure you that the agreement is going to abide by every single last standard and appropriate conduct and zoning regulations in effect at this time,” he said. Downing added, “The city staff at Tumwater and the Port staff believed they have satisfactory agreement between the two of them that answers the many questions that have been raised tonight.”
For the next steps, the Port Executive will send the agreement to the Tumwater City Council for consideration.
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