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The 53-acre Old Navy Dump/Manchester Laboratory site is located north of Manchester, Washington, along the western shore of Clam Bay in Puget Sound. Federal ownership of this site started in 1898 with the U.S. Army. In 1924, the entire site was transferred to the U.S. Navy. From the 1940s to the 1960s, the Navy used the site primarily for construction, repair, maintenance and storage of submarine nets and boats. The Navy also used the site for firefighter training and as a dump for wastes generated at the site. Former firefighter training activities contaminated soil with dioxins and petroleum hydrocarbons. The Navy dumped demolition debris and industrial waste, including asbestos, into a former tidal lagoon, causing contamination of soil, sediment, seep water and shellfish in Clam Bay with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals. Following cleanup, operation and maintenance activities and monitoring are ongoing.

Portions of the site extended onto an adjacent State park, a Navy fuel supply depot, and the marine tidelands of Clam Bay. Clam Bay has been used primarily for recreational shellfishing and is also known to be used by the bald eagle and chinook salmon, federally-threatened species designated under the Endangered Species Act. In the early 1970s, EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) acquired portions of the property. The site is currently occupied by an EPA analytical laboratory and a NOAA fisheries research laboratory.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through federal actions.

The USACE prepared the site’s second Five-Year Review in 2009. It concluded that a protectiveness determination of the remedy at the site could not be made pending data collection and review of seep water and sediment analysis, and clam tissue analysis. These data may be used to determine if the remedy is protective of human health and the environment in the long term. At the present time, a restriction on subsistence-level harvesting of intertidal bivalve organisms is in place, the landfill cap and shoreline protection systems are intact, and cleanup requirements for the former firefighter training area have been met. The shell-fishing restriction, however, was intended only as a temporary measure during the initial recovery period. Seep, sediment and tissue sampling data are necessary to evaluate the current status and long-term protectiveness of the actions implemented for the landfill and Clam Bay.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

In 1997, EPA issued a long-term cleanup plan to address contamination at the former fire fighter training area, landfill area and Clam Bay. It included removing contaminated soil and structures in the former fire fighter training area; constructing a landfill cap and shoreline protection system; placing clean sediment in the nearshore area to enhance natural recovery of the sediments; and issuing a temporary ban on subsistence-level shellfish harvesting until it can be determined that clams are safe for subsistence-level harvesting. The plan also included long-term monitoring of the seeps, sediment and shellfish.

Cleanup Progress

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) constructed the remedy between 1999 and 2001. The Navy and EPA completed a formal review of the effectiveness of the remedy in 2004 and concluded that the landfill cap, shoreline protection system and remedial activities in the former firefighter training area have achieved the intended goal of reducing risks to human health and the environment. Long-term monitoring at the site is ongoing.

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