OLYMPIA, Wash. - Abandoned buildings, including an old lumber mill, sit along West Bay in Olympia.
In 2008, the Port of Olympia and the Department of Ecology began investigating contamination in Budd Inlet caused by work done decades ago.
"We're a port town, so we've always had industrial uses here and, as those uses moved out of our area, they left all kinds of legacy contamination,” said Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby.
Back in the day, treatment facilities, manufacturing plants and fuel storage sites put highly toxic compounds, like dioxin, in the water.
"A big problem with contaminated sites is having the money to go in and assess what's going on,” said Alan Bogner, Department of Ecology Brownfields Manager.
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On Wednesday, the City of Olympia got a helping hand in the form of a $600,000 Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant to help assess hazardous sites and create cleanup plans.
"Small municipalities, like ours, cannot come up with the funding to make a meaningful difference along the bays here,” said Selby.
Environmental Protection Agency workers said the grant is a big first step to help with future development in Olympia.
"When you go to redevelop industrial property, you need to know what's there and what the risks are and what the possible costs might be as you move forward with your vision for the area,” said Chris Hladick, EPA Regional Administrator.
West Bay Park is a perfect example of what the future could hold. The city developed the shoreline on a contaminated site, adding a beach and walking trails.
"I like that there's a hill and that it's paved and that it's pretty by the water,” said Olympia resident Alex Gouirand.
Gouirand and her dog, Barnabee, were happy to hear the funding may make their waterfront park even better.
"I think it's a great thing; it's a really beautiful area and anything we can do to beautify it and make it cleaner is good news,” she said.
Once the city gets the money, they will hire contractors to test the soil for contaminants. After that, they will decide the next steps, including what may be built along the waterfront.
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