Army pledges $20 million to continue Camp Bonneville cleanup

Commissioners expected to OK deal Tuesday

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

Updated: August 1, 2011, 8:40 PM

 

The Army has agreed to continue paying for the cleanup of Camp Bonneville and Clark County commissioners are expected to approve a new contract Tuesday.

Earlier this summer, negotiations to continue the extensive cleanup stalled.

The Army used the 3,840-acre site in east county as an artillery range and training area from 1909 to 1995.

The multimillion-dollar cleanup, overseen by the state Department of Ecology, has crawled along and been marked by cost overruns and funding disputes.

Under the terms of the two proposed Environmental Services Cooperative Agreements commissioners are expected to sign Tuesday, the Army will pay $20 million over the next 10 years.

The money will “provide for the cleanup of the central valley floor, a portion of the western slopes and the removal of stockpiles of contaminated soil,” according to a staff report. “It also provides funding for the county’s oversight and management of the property and project.”

All of the county’s anticipated expenses are covered under the contracts, according to the report prepared by Bronson Potter, Clark County’s chief civil deputy prosecutor.

If the agreements are approved, the county will become the project manager and put out a request for proposals and hire new contractors, Potter said.

In 2006, the Army provided $28.6 million under a fixed-price contract, and most of that money has been spent.

The county’s former contractor found and removed hundreds of unexploded munitions, but also discovered that the Army had greatly underestimated how much work had to be done.

The Army also took issue with the county’s contractor, Mike Gage, for what it considered lavish entertainment and travel expenses.

Gage’s company, Bonneville Conservation Restoration and Renewal Team, has the title to the property, which would be turned over to the county if the new agreements are signed.

Last year, the county agreed on a one-year deal with the Army to come up with a new agreement.

Potter said seven of nine firing ranges have been cleaned up, but lead has been more pervasive than predicted.

One range has lead four feet underground, he said.

Had the county and the Army failed to reach a new agreement, the Department of Ecology would have still gone after the Army to clean up the land.

The county has long planned to turn a cleaned-up Camp Bonneville into a regional park.

Stephanie Rice: http://twitter.com/col_clarkgov; http://www.facebook.com/reporterrice; stephanie.rice@columbian.com.