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News / Clark County News

Fruit Valley terminal site to be cleaned up

Public comments open on NuStar’s plan

By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 13, 2023, 5:49pm

A Fruit Valley terminal site will soon see a cleanup plan address its petroleum-contaminated soil that was discovered more than two decades ago.

The NuStar Annex Terminal Site, 5420 N.W. Fruit Valley Road, has been used for petroleum storage and handling since 1957, where then-owner Cenex discovered contaminated soil in 2001. That same year, the Washington State Department of Ecology was made aware of a gas spill from an underground storage tank.

Previous investigations concluded that “chemicals of potential concern,” or those toxic to humans and the environment, were found in soil and stormwater. There are three localized areas where ground water was contaminated.

Pollutants have been contained below the site’s surface and decreased since its original discovery those decades ago, according to the Department of Ecology. But recent analyses show some chemicals still remain hazardous and must be removed under state law, including naphthalene, a chemical found in petroleum and coal.

The Department of Ecology ranked the site as having a second-rank risk level out of five, the first indicating the greatest risk to humans and the environment.

Roughly 1,000 feet north of the terminal, Clark Public Utilities is building a well to supply drinking water nearby that will be in use as soon as later this year. According to a draft cleanup plan, there will be means to prevent contaminated groundwater from migrating toward the drinking water supply.

Though NuStar didn’t purchase the terminal site until 2003, it will be responsible for cleaning the polluted soil. NuStar spokesperson Chris Cho said the company has conducted multiple remedial investigations and implemented a regular groundwater monitoring program since it assumed ownership of the property.

The Department of Ecology requested for NuStar to install additional groundwater monitoring equipment, remove contaminated soil, and design and install a groundwater recirculation system. NuStar will also create a soil management plan to observe how the Earth breaks down petroleum over time to components that aren’t hazardous.

NuStar expects to implement the Department of Ecology’s cleanup plan later this year, Cho said.

Once cleanup recommendations are complete, NuStar will file an environmental agreement with Clark County that could implement controls to prevent future risks to the cleanup. The Department of Ecology will monitor the site’s conditions every five years while the county covenant is in place.

A public comment period for NuStar Annex Terminal Site cleanup plans will remain open through March 10. Respective documents for the cleanup can be found at the Department of Ecology’s site page, apps.ecology.wa.gov/cleanupsearch/site/568, or in person at Vancouver Community Library, 901 C St.

Comments can be submitted through tcp.ecology.commentinput.com/?id=sCWet or email to Department of Ecology site manager Andrew Smith, andrew.smith@ecy.wa.gov.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

Columbian staff writer