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In 1971, Martin Marietta — which later merged with Lockheed to form Lockheed Martin Corporation — purchased the Harvey Aluminum plant several miles south of Goldendale, Wash. Martin Marietta operated the aluminum reduction plant, located beside the John Day Dam near the Columbia River, until it sold the property in 1985.
Years after Martin Marietta sold the property, chemicals of concern were discovered in sediment in four holding ponds installed in the early 1970s. Monitored as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program, the ponds hold wastewater from the plant and remove sediment in the wastewater. Although there have been subsequent owners since Martin Marietta sold the property, Lockheed Martin assumed the primary role for the cleanup.
Lockheed Martin has worked in consultation with the Washington Department of Ecology to assess the level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the ponds and to determine the best methods for cleaning up sediment and soil near the facility. Test results show that because of the topography in the region, a catastrophic release of contaminants into the Columbia River is virtually impossible.
All four NPDES ponds were constructed by installing earthen dikes across a natural surface-water drainage that extended from the plant to the Columbia River. Ponds A and B were installed in 1971, and Ponds C and D were installed downstream from Ponds A and B in 1972 and 1973. Over the years, improvements to the waste-treatment system have reduced the level of PAH discharge into the ponds, which today are used by the current owner of the site, Columbia Gorge Aluminum.
Lockheed Martin plans to fully remove the contaminated sediment and soil from the ponds to reduce the risk of human contact with potential chemicals of concern. Under its proposed plan, Lockheed Martin will remove sediment and soil with elevated levels of PAHs and will safely transport the material to licensed landfills. During the cleanup, the Corporation will take measures to minimize the effects of the cleanup on humans and to protect the surface water, groundwater and air quality in the area.
Lockheed Martin is working closely with the Yakama Indian Nation, which represents four Indian tribes that have rights to the river, to ensure the Corporation considers the tribes’ concerns as it pursues the work. Lockheed Martin plans to begin the work in Spring 2010. In the coming months, the Corporation will select a contractor to perform the cleanup work, finalize its work plan for the cleanup, and submit the plan to the Washington Department of Ecology for approval and public comment.