Cleanup work gets underway at former Unocal fuel terminal in Edmonds

Contractors for Chevron Environmental Management Company began work this week on the cleanup project in the former Unocal Edmonds lower yard area adjacent to the Edmonds Marsh and the Edmonds waterfront.

In this first phase, crews will excavate contaminated soil from the Detention Basin No. 2 area and remove it from the site in covered dump trucks to minimize the risk of spreading dust. According to the State Department of Ecology, which is overseeing the cleanup activity, all construction traffic will access the site via State Route 104, and will not travel through downtown Edmonds.

The Ecology Department says that the work will generate typical construction noise, including vehicle backup horns. There will be flaggers at the truck entrance to the site. Work hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and work should be complete in one to two months.

“By mid-fall, crews will have replaced the contaminated soil with clean soil,” said Ecology Department spokesperson Larry Altose, “at which time crews will begin installing wells for the groundwater treatment system.”

With construction expected to begin in October and take an additional one to two months, this system will extract and treat both contaminated groundwater and soil vapor. Contractors will use drill rigs to install extraction and monitoring wells, followed by installation of above-ground piping and treatment system equipment. The system will remain in operation for an estimated six years or until groundwater and soil vapor meet State cleanup standards for safe discharge.

More than 80 years ago, the Union Oil Company of California, later renamed Unocal, began operations in Edmonds. Fuel arrived by ship at the Port of Edmonds and was pumped to storage tanks atop a steep hill, now home to the Point Edwards condominiums. A series of pipes from the tank farm conducted the oil down the hill and over the road and railroad tracks, where tank trucks and rail cars would fill up and distribute petroleum products to gas stations throughout the greater Seattle region. A considerable workforce was needed at the Edmonds site to keep the fuel terminal operating, providing employment and livelihood to hundreds of Edmonds area residents.

While primarily a bulk storage facility for petroleum products that had been produced and refined elsewhere, Unocal also ran an asphalt-production plant in the lower yard area for more than 25 years. The byproducts from this operation are the primary source of the contamination addressed by the present cleanup efforts.

In 1991, Unocal stopped all activities in Edmonds. Chevron’s Environmental Management Company (EMC) is now responsible for environmental cleanup of the site.

More information on the project is available on the project website, the DOE project status page , and the August 2017 Cleanup Fact Sheet.

Additional background on cleanup-related public information and engagement in Edmonds was reported in My Edmonds News here and here.

— By Larry Vogel


  1. We still don’t know what the ultimate use of this property will be. I’ve been told that it was purchased by Washington State 10 years ago and is still in escrow. Is that still true? Will it belong to the State when it is cleaned up?

  2. Thanks for the report. Those of us who frequent the marsh were wondering what is going on at the Unocal site.

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