New contractor hired to clean up Camp Bonneville

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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A new contractor was hired this week to resume cleaning up Camp Bonneville.

The Board of Clark County Commissioners on May 1 awarded a $7.6 million contract to Weston Solutions Inc., an international company headquartered in Pennsylvania that has an office in Seattle.

The U.S. Army, which used the 3,840-acre site in east county as an artillery range and training area from 1909 to 1995, continues to pay for the cleanup.

The multimillion-dollar effort has crawled along and been marked by cost overruns and funding disputes.

Last year, the Army agreed to pay $20 million over the next 10 years.

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 lav

ish entertainment and travel expenses.

Gage’s company, Bonneville Conservation Restoration and Renewal Team, had the title to the property.

Now the county owns the property and will be supervising the cleanup, said Bronson Potter, the county’s chief civil deputy prosecutor.

The first tasks for Weston will be clearing Camp Bonneville’s central valley floor and western slopes. Weston, which will first have to obtain permits from the state Department of Ecology, will have until June 2014 to complete those first two tasks.

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

One range has lead four feet underground.

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

Commissioners recently endorsed a plan for the forested land at Camp Bonneville, which has been largely unmanaged for three decades.

The plan involves selective thinning to create a healthier environment and reduce fire danger.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.