Eureka Times Standard, Feb. 21, 2008

The Simpson Timber Co. will be removing tons of sediment contaminated with dioxin from the foot of Del Norte Street a part of a settlement of a 2006 lawsuit filed by Humboldt Baykeeper and Californians for Alternatives to Toxics.

The lawsuit came after tests were conducted near the site of a former Simpson plywood mill, where the company commonly sprayed plywood with the now-banned wood preservative pentachlorophenol in the 1960s, revealed the presence of dioxin, according to joint news release from Humboldt Baykeeper and CATS. Dioxin is an accidental byproduct of pentachlorophenol, according to Patty Clary of CATS.

The tests revealed the presence of dioxin at levels "tens of thousands of times higher than Environmental Protection Agency standards," according to the news release.

”Under the settlement, Simpson is required to dig up contaminated sediment in the ditch, which is adjacent to Humboldt Bay's only public fishing pier, and haul it to a licensed disposal site,” the news release stated. “The company also must restore the ditch as a functioning wetland and install a network of groundwater-monitoring wells to ensure that residual subsurface contamination doesn't leave the site. In addition, a Humboldt Bay Wetlands Restoration Fund will be established at the Humboldt Area Foundation for restoration projects designed to offset environmental damage caused as a result of the contamination.”

Clary said the settlement was finalized Tuesday following months of negotiation with Simpson Timber Co.

Dave McEntee, vice president of operational services and external affairs for Simpson Timber Co., said the plan is to have the contaminated soil removed by the end of summer.

”We're hoping to get after it as soon as we can,” McEntee said.

He estimated that some 2,500 cubic yards of soil would be removed from the site, but the total may be more or less. The soil in the area will be tested prior to excavation to make sure the area excavated has all the contaminants of concern, he said. The soil removal is expected to cost more than $500,000, McEntee said.

”It will depend on the actual volume we excavate,” he said. “We've been working on this site for several years ... this is a continuation of the effort to make sure the property is cleaned up."