PORT ORCHARD — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the Navy to fix problems associated with a former hazardous waste dump near Port Orchard.
The EPA says its records show that a substantial amount of the waste in Gorst Creek Ravine is from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The landfill was the main dumping ground for shipyard waste between 1969 and 1970, when the site was not permitted by local authorities to take waste, the agency said. It later took waste from local residents before closing in 1989.
“I think we can say that the Navy is by far the largest single generator of waste in that landfill,” Jeffry Rodin, EPA’s on-scene coordinator, said.
The EPA’s order issued Tuesday says the Navy may be responsible for generating about 85 percent of the 150,000 cubic yards of waste at the site.
According to the EPA’s order, the Navy in April acknowledged that it may have disposed of waste at the site from 1969 to 1970. But the Navy said the EPA hasn’t established a connection between items the Navy disposed of and the contamination.
The landfill was created in 1968 by channeling Gorst Creek through a 2-foot culvert placed on the floor of a ravine. Between 1968 and 1989, waste was dumped on top of that culvert.
The landfill has collapsed several times since 1997 and threatens to blow out Highway 3, possibly sending garbage downstream into Gorst Creek.
The EPA says its sampling over the years show the landfill is an ongoing source of pesticides, PCBs and metals flowing downstream with the potential to affect groundwater wells, sport fisheries and the Suquamish Tribe’s fish hatchery.
The order directs the Navy to reroute the creek around the landfill to improve salmon habitat. Gorst Creek is a tributary to Puget Sound, and wildlife officials say it provides habitat for threatened coho salmon and other fish.