Possible pollution closes part of Marine Park

Soil testing near Marine Park shows lead contamination

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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Vancouver officials have closed a small patch of land in Marine Park to conduct further lead contamination testing.

The park contains buried World War II-era debris from the former Kaiser shipyard. During the 1940s, military and cargo ships were built there as part of the massive war effort. Some of the scrap materials used in the shipyard were buried in a landfill on the property.

In 2010, after much testing, the state Department of Ecology found the contamination -- old timbers, steel and buckets -- had not found its way into the groundwater, and ruled that the best move was to leave the debris there, undisturbed.

A parking lot constructed in the 1980s acts as a natural cap for much of the debris.

But Vancouver officials closed a small patch of land off to the public Friday for further testing after an adjacent property owner, Iron Partners, conducted tests that showed lead contamination could be higher than earlier believed.

Iron Partners is still in litigation with Kaiser to settle the issue of debris on its property.

Vancouver Public Works spokeswoman Loretta Callahan said Tuesday that the closure was an “added precaution.”

The city hired a consultant to go in and do further testing of the area, she said.

The closed area is about 30 by 30 feet in size, and is in an area covered by brush, away from the walking trail and beach.

“It should not impede anyone’s enjoyment of the beach or walkway,” Callahan said.

It’s not clear how long the area will remain closed, she said.

The federal government and Kaiser agreed in January to pay Vancouver $383,000 to reimburse the city for its costs in studying the contamination at Marine Park. The settlement covered initial costs, as well as more than $160,000 to cover future monitoring.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542; http://www.twitter.com/col_cityhall;andrea.damewood@columbian.com.