Navy plans ‘time critical’ cleanup of radioactive contamination at Magnuson Park

Rep. Gerry Pollet answers questions from the public Wednesday evening.

Rep. Gerry Pollet answers questions from the public Wednesday evening at the Mountaineers.

Anxious residents and park users gathered at Magnuson Park Wednesday evening for an open house with government officials and representatives of the U.S. Navy to discuss the cleanup of low-level radioactive contamination only recently disclosed to the public.

The meeting was unusual, with a few tense exchanges between officials, and lots of explaining from government officials.

In an email circulated among Lake City neighbors earlier in the week announcing the meeting, some in the email chain expressed disbelief that officials would know about contamination and not disclose it to the public sooner. Some even debated its authenticity. The park is a popular destination for people in NE Seattle.

Sandpoint Naval Station in 1937

Sandpoint Naval Station in 1937. (Seattle P-I photo)

The low-level radioactive contamination was first discovered in 2009 after blueprints were discovered with an area labled radium room. The contaminated areas disclosed by the Navy includes the south shed attached to building 27 and adjacent soil and catch basins. Building 2 and and 12 also had adjacent contamination in the soil, while building 2 had contamination inside. That structure is currently vacant.

Many people have expressed concern, specifically surrounding the fact that children use the adjacent gym at building 27 through the Li’l Kickers soccer program. But Rep. Gerry Pollet, who has pushed for the contamination to be publicly acknowledged by the Navy, said he feels the area is safe enough for his own kids.

Radiation measured around building 27 has been measured above the level that federal law requires cleanup. Areas around Magnuson Park tested by the Wasington State Department of Health registered in the range of 4-10 microrem, according to the Department of Health. The EPA requires cleanup at any site with more than 15 mrem per year. Radium-226, Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 were discovered at the site.

During the meeting representatives of the Navy said the removal of contamination is “time critical,” largely because the buildings where it is located are not maintained and have fallen into disrepair. Time critical means there is less time for public input on the plan.

They expect the project to take fewer than six months. Public comments can be sent to the U.S. Navy via Cindy O’Hare, 1101 Tautog Circle, Room 203, Silverdale, Washington 98315-1101 or emailed to: cindy.ohare@navy.mil

Here is a story about the contamination from the Seattle Times.

You can read more here from the Washington Dept. of Ecology or here in our previous story.

Here is a link to the Navy’s Action Memorandum (May 2013)

Here is a fact sheet from the Navy and Dept. of Ecology

Here is the Navy’s Radiological Remedial Investigation Report

Below is a report from KOMO/4