Hello Chelan Basin Conservancy Supporters and Affiliated Parties, I just wanted to present some timely information concerning one of CBC’s more recent focus areas; namely, the push to get the City of Chelan and Chelan County to require residential developments on legacy orchard lands to address potential lead and arsenic contamination as was necessary to protect the health of future residents. This is something that had not been done for decades. Legacy orchard lands are prolific around Lake Chelan and throughout Chelan County, and studies have shown that lead and arsenic are extremely harmful to individuals. This is particularly true with children, where intellectual disabilities and other adverse effects are likely to result from living on contaminated land.
This is an issue that I personally started voicing concern about over four years ago and that was picked up by CBC nearly three and a half years ago. This advocacy included many public comment letters, attendance at public hearings, and CBC’s successful efforts to get the environmental legal group Earth justice involved.
In 2020, the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) stepped in and utilized their authority under the Model Toxics Control Act. They developed a new program that requires all development on legacy orchard lands to test for lead and arsenic contamination and address any concentrations found about state cleanup levels, regardless of whether or not city or county agencies create such are requirement. The DOE requirements were finalized in a 91-page Model Remedies document published in July of 2021 and apply to all of central and eastern Washington.
Of interest, the DOE recently provided $225,000 to Chelan County for a pilot legacy orchard soil cleanup project in Manson, WA, utilizing the Model Remedies for the first time for a project in the county (the20-parcel Cameo residential development). Chelan County used this money to hire a consultant to oversee the project, identify and procure clean topsoil, and generate forms that will also be useful for future developments. The outcome of this pilot project is described by the DOE in the following blog post:
This project, and the development of the new DOE Model Remedies program, are great examples of what a small number of motivated citizens can accomplish! Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.
Brian Patterson – CBC President
Related reference materials:
- Department of Ecology map showing locations of legacy orchard lands:
- Department of Ecology Model Remedies document:
- Department of Ecology legacy orchard general information: https://ecology.wa.gov/Spills-Cleanup/Contamination-cleanup/Cleanup-sites/Former-orchard-lands