Port of Olympia begins sampling activities to diagnose condition of Budd Inlet


The Port of Olympia deployed a research vessel on Monday, January 8, to help the Port collect sediment samples from Budd Inlet.

The collected samples will be analyzed to help the Port identify the extent of pollutants in the site and inform a work plan for removing contaminated sediments. The area being surveyed includes the location of the former Cascade Pole Company, which turned logs into utility poles by injecting and coating them with preservatives. Cascade Pole closed in 1986 according to the Washington State Department of Ecology, which collaborates with the Port of Olympia on the cleanup of the site.

For the next six to eight weeks, an expert team will collect up to 8,000 samples from 100 locations in East Bay. Rob Webb, the principal engineer of Dalton, Olmsted & Fuglevand and the lead technical consultant for the project, said that sediment cores measuring up to 20 feet long would be extracted from the site. 

The samples will be taken from these cores based on the depth where the team believes the contamination would historically be. The team will collect samples to be evaluated for pollutants such as dioxins, furans, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), mercury, and arsenic, chemicals originating from historic industries in the Port peninsula.

The Port estimates that the eventual cleanup of Budd Bay will cost $150 to $200 million. 

Port staff invited stakeholders to participate in the first day of the sampling activity. Among the participants include Jim Thornton, a member of the the Port’s citizen advisory committee and an environmental permit coordinator working for the Washington Governor's Office.

More details about the samples to be taken

This is the research vessel that consultants Dalton, Olmsted & Fuglevand are using to research sediment conditions in Budd Inlet just north of downtown Olympia.
This is the research vessel that consultants Dalton, Olmsted & Fuglevand are using to research sediment conditions in Budd Inlet just north of …

Thornton made several inquiries about the technical details of the activity, such as whether the team will conduct a separate evaluation of the top 10 centimeters of the sediment, explaining that this is the most critical area for habitat.

Webb affirmed that they will be evaluating the top 10 centimeters of the entire East Bay and and also the top 45 centimeters of the intertidal areas. Webb explained that the benthic zone, the lowest ecological region in a body of water, extends 45 centimeters down the seafloor in the intertidal area.

Thornton also asked how the sampling sites were selected. Webb said that they used previously available data as much as they could but mostly relied on a grid system that was overlaid to the entire East Bay. The grid uses 500 to 600 foot spacing but some portions of the grid were modified to adjust for shoreline irregulartiies.

Webb assured that they have protocols to ensure that the activity does not cause the redistribution of contaminants.

“Over the last 25 years or so of performing sediment remediation and sediment management, we have really learned the technical tools, technical tricks of the trade that allow us to remove the material not cause a lot of resuspension nor leave a lot of what are called residuals on the bottom,” Webb said.

Webb said that laboratory analysis will take up to eight weeks and they could have a report ready by fall. He added that they would conduct another sampling activity in West Bay next year and the northern part of Budd Inlet afterward.

Planning for activity took a year

The cleanup and remediation of Budd Inlet comply with a 2008 agreed order from the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology). The Port of Olympia Commission amended the agreed order in May 2023 to expand the scope of the agreement and allow the Port to take the project's next steps.

Asked by participants how long they have been planning for the sampling activity, Webb said that they have working over the last year to acquire the necessary documents in place.

“We have been working about the last year and a half diligently with Ecology to get the necessary documents in place,” Webb said.

“The board had to do an amendment to the agreed order to get into this next phase of the work… and then we had to do several different reports to get up to where we are now, summarizing the data that's available, talking about additional data that's needed, and then putting a plan in place to go out and get that data meeting all of the state requirements,” Webb added.

Nisqually Indian Tribe Chairman Willie Frank III was also present at the event and delivered an opening statement to express his support for the Port.

“I think of the great work the Port has been doing on education. That's where I think we're at right now is a lot of education — not just to our government-to-government partners but also the public — of what the Port does and how much of an impact that has on on our county here,” Frank said.

Frank also noted that two of the elected port commissioners are members from tribal groups. They are Commissioner Bob Iyall, a member of the Nisqually Indian Tribe, and newly elected Commissioner Maggie Sanders who is from the Makah Tribe.


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  • Boatyarddog

    Billy Franks words are True.

    We have learned alot about this Ports Committment to Enviroment.

    They are in a Position to Right some of the Destruction of Budd Bay in Past years.

    Remeadiation is at Best A Compromise to Water Quality.

    In My opinion, This Port Needs Constant Monitoring for Compliance with Current DOE Requirements for Storm water releases.

    And sampling of the Bay Should be done by two independent testing labs.

    This will help to keep the samples pureity intact and crosschecks the results with companies that hold no Stake in assisisting the Port to Misrepresent the findings for their benefit.

    Enviromental Protocal has been a Problem with the Commissoners and Enviromental Staff as last seen in 2018 when 1.3 million in Tax dollars was awarded to an Enviromental Team Due to a Lawsuit levied on The Port.

    Want to know More?

    LOOK UP. The Action taken.

    Waste Action of Coveington Wa VS Port of Olympia 2018 Tacoma District Court.

    Tuesday, January 16 Report this

  • Boatyarddog

    Still Wondering the Results from the Core samples.

    02 29 24

    Thursday, February 29 Report this

  • Boatyarddog

    Core samples are back!

    What do they Show?

    Sunday, March 10 Report this