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Case Summary: EPA and Navy Reach Agreement on Landfill Cleanup Work

On January 20, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Navy reached a multimillion dollar agreement to remove a landfill located in Gorst Creek south of Bremerton, Wash. The landfill was created in the 1960s when several parties, including the Puget Sound Naval Station disposed of over 150,000 cubic yards of waste material in a deep creek ravine. The waste material impedes the flow of the creek through the ravine, which during heavy precipitation can cause localized flooding that erodes the landfill and sends waste material downstream.

The agreement requires the Navy to fund the removal of the landfill and the restoration of the creek ravine and fish habitat at an estimated cost of approximately $30 million.

Gorst Creek is habitat for threatened Chinook salmon and steelhead, as well as coastal cutthroat trout, a state priority species. Landfill slides degrade downstream water quality and habitat, and the crushed culvert blocks fish passage to upstream habitat. The Suquamish Tribe operates a Chinook hatchery 2.5 miles downstream and is concerned about impacts on fish and habitat.

On this page

  • Information about the Gorst Creek Bremerton Auto Wrecking Landfill (GCL) Site
  • Summary of the Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent
  • Contact information

Information about the Gorst Creek Bremerton Auto Wrecking Landfill (GCL) Site

The Gorst Creek Bremerton Auto Wrecking Landfill (GCL) site operated as a landfill from the 1960s until 1989. During this time, the landfill received auto wrecking wastes, medical waste, and other material from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and demolition debris and municipal solid waste. The volume of waste in the landfill is estimated at over 150,000 cubic yards.

In 1968, a pipe was installed in the ravine to contain the creek, which allowed the operators to fill the ravine with waste and debris. The weight of the landfill crushed the creek culvert in at least two locations. The crushed culvert restricts water flow, and when it rains the creek impounds upstream of the landfill, at times reaching depths of 40 to 60 feet. Impounded water seeps through the landfill and occasionally flows over its surface, causing erosion and failure of the landfill slope.

The landfill also presents a threat to State Highway 3 located approximately 100 yards downstream. Waste from previous landfill slides has blocked the culvert beneath the highway, requiring the Washington Department of Transportation to clear the culvert to prevent highway flooding and erosion of the highway embankment.

Soil, sediment, and water sampling in 1999 and 2004 found arsenic, chromium, PCBs, pesticides and other polluting chemicals at the landfill. This pollution could move further into the environment and pose a risk to people, animals, and the environment.

The plan to remove the landfill and restore the creek and habitat will be done in consultation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Suquamish Tribe, and Washington State Department of Transportation.

Information about the site and updates on current activities is available from the on-scene coordinator’s Gorst Creek Bremerton Auto Wrecking Landfill (GCL) site Web page.

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Summary of the Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent

The Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent between the U.S. Navy, the ST Trust (current property owner) and the U.S. EPA requires the Navy to fund the full cost of EPA’s work to remove the landfill, properly dispose of the waste, and restore the creek ravine at a current estimate of approximately $27 million. The agreement requires the ST Trust to record an environmental covenant that will protect the site and creek ravine in perpetuity.

The settlement agreement became effective on January 20, 2016 following a 30-day public comment. EPA commenced work at the site on April 11, 2016 and removal and restoration operations are ongoing and expected to be completed in the fall of 2017.

Contact information

For more information, contact:

Jeffry Rodin
On-Scene Coordinator
(206) 553-6709

Alex Fidis
Assistant Regional Counsel
(206) 553-4710

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 10
1200 6th Avenue, Suite 900
Seattle, WA 98101

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