Ecology Seeking Public Comments On Lora Lake Apartment Cleanup May 4th

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The Port of Seattle is conducting a “Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study” (RI/FS) for the Lora Lake Apartments site in Burien, with a public meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 4th, from 7pm – 9pm at the Highline School District’s Educational Resource and Administration Center (15675 Ambaum Blvd., SW).

Attendees will have an opportunity to talk with Department of Ecology and Port staff members about the property and its pollution, get answers to questions or concerns they may have, and provide comments at the meeting.

As we previously reported, the Port of Seattle wants to develop facilities for airport-compatible activities at this location , such as air cargo, food service and warehouses, and on other property it owns within Burien’s Northeast Planning Area north of the airport. The City of Burien is working with the Port on a redevelopment strategy for this area, called the Northeast Redevelopment Area (NERA). The goal is to transform it from a mixture of vacant, residential, public and small commercial land uses to uses compatible with airport operations and existing and planned surrounding land uses. Possible land uses include an auto mall, business park or airport-related facilities.

City Manager Mike Martin has said that an interchange near this location would increase the value of the Lora Lake site for business development.

The Port is attempting to identify the nature and extent of contamination associated with former operations at the site, including a barrel-cleaning company in the 1940s and 1950s and an auto-wrecking facility from roughly 1960 to 1981. A 22-building apartment complex was built in 1987, then bought by the Port in 1998 before finally being totally demolished in late 2009.

An aircraft prepares to land on the third runway, which is less than 1,000 feet away from the Lora Lake property.

At one point in 2007, the Burien City Council came to an agreement with King County to turn the apartment complex into a low-income affordable housing, but that deal fell through.

The Port demolished remaining structures on the property in 2009 because vacant buildings pose public safety hazards from arson, accidental fires and vandalism.  The Port demolished only above-ground structures, and took measures – under Ecology oversight – not to disturb potentially contaminated soil.

Environmental samples taken in preparation for that demolition showed higher than expected levels of contaminants from the pre-apartment-complex activities at the site. The 2009 legal agreement, known as an Agreed Order, lays out a process under which the Port will evaluate the nature and extent of contamination at the site and assess cleanup options. The draft site study and public participation plans, drawn up by the Port, are steps in that process.

Pollutants associated with the site’s former activities include petroleum products, dioxin, solvents and other contaminants.

The study will assess alternative methods of cleaning up the contamination, under a 2009 legal agreement between the Department of Ecology and the Port of Seattle, which owns the property.

The draft plan for the process – called a remedial investigation and feasibility study – and a draft public-participation plan will be available for public comment through May 24th at:

  • Burien Public Library – 400 SW 152nd St., 206-243-3490.
  • Ecology’s regional office in Bellevue – by appointment, 425-649-7190 – 3190 160th Ave. SE.

The draft plans and related information are available for public review here.

A fact sheet on Lora Lake Apartments site and the draft plans is available here.

If you need special accommodations, please contact Nancy Lui at [email protected] or at (425) 649-7117 to make arrangements prior to the public meeting.

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