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Proposal would order Boeing to clean up groundwater contamination in Everett

The Department of Ecology found TCE contamination in the groundwater at Boeing's Everett site which has migrated into the Powder Mill Creek.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2020, file photo a Boeing 777X airplane takes off on its first flight with the Olympic Mountains in the background at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. Boeing is reporting another huge loss, this one because of a setback to its 777X widebody jetliner. Boeing said Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, it lost $8.4 billion in the fourth quarter on weaker demand for planes during the pandemic. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

EVERETT, Wash. — A proposal from the Washington State Department of Ecology would order Boeing to clean up groundwater contamination at their plant in Everett which has migrated off Boeing's property into the Powder Mill Gulch. 

The Department of Ecology found concentrations of Trichloroethylene (TCE) in the groundwater on Boeing's Everett property are well above drinking water standards in the state of Washington, according to a report.

As a safety precaution, the department recommends that people and animals should stay on the walking trails adjacent to Powder Mill Creek and not enter or go near the creek. The department found there is TCE contaminated groundwater seeping from the creek banks that drains along the surface of the creek shore and eventually flows into the creek.  

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to TCE can impact the human nervous system and is associated with several types of cancers. It can also have negative impacts on the liver, kidneys, endocrine and immunological systems.  

The department is using an enforcement order to implement a cleanup action plan on the site. Boeing refused to sign an agreed order to clean up the property with the department because the groundwater cleanup levels meet surface water quality standards instead of state drinking water standards for Washington state.

The Department of Ecology also found non-chlorinated solvents, fuels, oils, polychlorinated biphenyls and heavy metals in the groundwater, surface water or sediments at Boeing's Everett location.

In a statement to KING 5, a Boeing spokesperson said the company is in the final stages of environmental cleanup at the Everett site under a draft set of studies, plans and orders available for public comment from the Department of Ecology. The company said it agreed on the cleanup approach for the facility and Powder Mill Gulch and was pleased to move into the main cleanup phase of the project. 

"We are committed to a comprehensive cleanup of the Powder Mill Gulch area of Everett and have made considerable progress in reducing groundwater contamination through a variety of interim action cleanup activities. Our cleanup plans now available for comment build on these efforts," a spokesperson said. 

The contamination beneath the site doesn't pose a risk to employees or visitors, according to the company. The cleanup isn't expected to impact Boeing's operations.