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Former Kaiser Smelter


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8/9-8/15/2020 UPDATE on EPA’s progress at the former Kaiser Smelter Site in Mead, Washington 8/13/2020 Site Update

UPDATE on EPA’s progress at the former Kaiser Smelter Site in Mead, Washington

August 9-15, 2020

New information highlighted in YELLOW


Overview of EPA work at the site

To address threats to human health and the environment the first phase of EPA’s planned actions at the former Kaiser Smelter facility include the removal of three primary pollution sources:

  1. An estimated 488,000 square feet of deteriorated Robertson Siding from approximately 24 buildings that is contaminated with PCBs and chrysotile asbestos. As part of this effort, EPA will also remove detritus from ground surfaces adjacent to siding found to contain elevated concentrations of PCBs.
  2. An estimated 12,000 linear feet of deteriorated TSI pipe insulation running inside and outside of buildings that has become friable.This amount constitutes over half of the estimated 20,666 linear feet estimated to be on the property.
  3. An estimated 4,500 cubic yards material containing elevated concentrations of the carcinogenic PAH benzo(a)pyrene. This includes waste piles of Green Coke and Coal Tar Pitch remaining from smelting operations.

The second phase of EPA’s work will focus on removal activities at a separate 405-acre parcel where PCBs-contaminated stormwater is conveyed through aqueducts and collects in settling ponds, eventually making its way to Deadman Creek, a tributary of the Little Spokane River.

EPA estimates the work will require four to six months to complete.

Progress report: 8/9-8/15/2020

  • EPA continued to remove Robertson Siding from the first three of an estimated 22 buildings that were constructed with the material. 

    EPA and its contractors continued removing panels of Robertson Siding from the north and east sides of Building 34; this building's siding removal was completed during Week 3, however crews will need to return to remove asbestos-containing pipe insulation from the interior rafters at a later date. 


  • Clean up of contaminated debris in around storm drains along the south of Building 34 continued. After contamination was cleared from storm drains new filter socks were installed to prevent additional contaminated debris from entering the storm water collection and conveyance system.

    EPA started and completed siding removal of Buildings 19G and 36. 


  • Siding removal was initiated on Building 32A and crews prepared work areas for siding removal to begin on several of the large buildings situated in the interior of the facility where logistical and safety issues are expected to be more of a challenge.


  • Crews located discarded hypodermic needles in two locations


  • ** On August 6, 2020 an Agreed Settlement and Administrative Order on Consent was signed between EPA and Kaiser Aluminum Investments Company to:


    • remove approximately 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment and over 400,000 gallons of contaminated water from the settling ponds on KAIC property,
    • address contamination in the existing stormwater collection and aqueduct conveyance system, and
    • reconstruct the settling ponds and aqueduct conveyance system and restoration to functional status as part of the ongoing stormwater management system.

Progress report: 8/2-8/8/2020

During the first full week of ‘Time Critical Removal’ activity at the facility EPA removed 50,460 square feet of Robertson siding from building 34. The siding contains PCBs and chrysotile asbestos.

On Thursday August 6, EPA and Kaiser Aluminum Investments Company signed an Administrative Order on Consent which establishes the terms for KAIC to cleanup PCB contamination of the settling ponds on 405-acre parcel of land and the associated storm water conveyance system.

The agency conducted air sampling and perimeter monitoring to ensure asbestos abatement and other cleanup activities would be compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Act, the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants and the Washington Administrative Code as it pertains to air pollution sources such as fugitive dust affecting downwind neighbors.

EPA news: EPA to begin time-critical removal work at Kaiser site in Mead 7/23/2020 7/23/2020 news release



July 23, 2020


Bill Dunbar/EPA




EPA to begin time-critical removal work at Kaiser site in Mead

Asbestos, PCBs at former aluminum smelter pose risks to people

(July 23, 2020) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that on Monday July 27, it will begin ‘time-critical’ cleanup actions at the Former Kaiser Smelter Site, in Mead, just north of downtown Spokane.

The work will reduce or eliminate risks to people, nearby homes and businesses, and the environment posed by asbestos, PCBs, and other chemicals.

During the first phase of this work crews managed by EPA’s Emergency Management Branch will remove PCBs and asbestos-contaminated materials from the 170-acre, developed portion of the site. This part of the site has many large, deteriorating structures and waste piles. 

The second phase will remove contaminated water and sediment from settling ponds on a 400-acre, undeveloped part of the site, north of the former plant. These ponds are full and actively releasing PCBs to Deadman Creek -- a tributary of the Little Spokane River – at levels hundreds of times higher than state water quality standards. Thus, the ponds pose a threat of a larger release of toxic PCBs to the watershed. This work will help protect fish, people who eat fish, and other important elements of the watershed ecosystem.

EPA expects work will wrap up by late December.

In 2019, at the request of the Washington Department of Ecology, EPA conducted field sampling at the site and found very high levels of a number of hazardous chemicals, including cancer-causing PCBs, PAHs, and asbestos-containing materials. These substances pose health risks to people who visit the site and are unaware of the danger.

Work will begin on or around July 27 and is expected to be completed by late December. The current cleanup plans include removing:

  • Highly contaminated building siding;
  • Siding material that has sloughed off onto the ground;
  • Friable asbestos-containing pipe insulation;
  • Piles of leftover toxic material; and
  • Contaminated water and sediment from the settling ponds and stormwater conveyance system.


For more about the work at the Former Kaiser Smelter Site in Mead go to:  https://response.epa.gov/site/site_profile.aspx?site_id=14546