Destruction Island, WA: Hazardous Materials and Environmental Assessment Report

Landing dock Photo:  EA EngineeringDestruction Island is located approximately 3 1/2 miles off the Washington State coast and occupied by seabirds, shorebirds, and marine mammals.  It is part of the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).  It has a lighthouse which was built in 1907 and included residential housing for the lighthouse keepers and additional facilities that occupied the western portion of the island.  The facilities included a landing dock for supplies, a water collection and distribution system, Lighthouse Area Photo:  EA Engineeringa diesel fuel distribution system, and a tram car system for moving materials and supplies.  The housing has been burned or demolished except for a few small buildings and abandoned structures.  The purpose of this report was to provide assessment for the areas of concern identified in 1997 which included, the lighthouse area, the water tower, and the helipad.  Samples were taken from these areas to determine the contamination due to leaded paint, solvents, fuel lines and fuel storage and other metals. Paint samples were collected to test for lead.  Soil samples were collected from the surface and approximately 5 feet Drain line in back of fog signal building, below ground surface. 

Results: Elevated levels of lead were found in the surface soils in the Lighthouse area which was probably the result of weathering leaded paint.  The lead was concentrated in the upper foot of soil in the vicinity of the buildings.  Elevated cadmium concentrations were also found beneath the Paint Locker, the Oil House Building, the Burn Barrel, the fuel line near the lighthouse, the former above ground storage tank (AST)  location, and a 2 inch PVC drainpipe outlet from the Fog Signal Building.  These concentrations may be due to past disposal practices.  Arsenic concentrations were also elevated near the Burn Barrel, the fuel line near the lighthouse and the former AST location.  This may be due to past agricultural practices on the island.  No elevated levels of silver, barium, chromium, mercury, or selenium were found in the Lighthouse area.  Elevated levels of diesel and lube oil range petroleum were Water Tower:  Photo:  EA Engineeringdetected at the Fog Signal, Paint Locker, Oil House buildings, and along the fuel line in the Lighthouse Area.  This may be due to past leaks or spills in the fuel line and or poor fuel handling practices.  Elevated lead concentrations were found in surface soil samples around the tramcar shed.  Lead was also detected in samples from demolished housing in the Water Tower Area.  Elevated levels of cadmium were detected in samples from the demolished hosing debris and the former AST area.  They may be related to building material composition and past fuel handling practices.  An elevated level of diesel range petroleum was found at the former AST location in the Water Towerarea.  This was probably due to past fuel handling and storing practices.  Elevated levels of lead and cadmium were detected in demolished hosing debris in the Heliport Area.  Diesel range petroleum was found at the Fuel bunker at a depth of 4.5 feet.  Liquid phase petroleum hydrocarbons (LPH) were observed in the concrete bunker which appeared to have an estimated 0.1 inch of diesel fuel floating on approximately 1 foot of water. 


  • Elevated concentrations of lead are present in soil around each of the buildings or former buildings at this site.  Helipad.  Photo:EA EngineeringThe lead concentrations appear to decrease with depth but occur laterally over a significant area away from the structures.
  • Cadmium concentrations were elevated at the following locations:
    • beneath the Fog Signal drainpipe
    • in front of the Paint Locker and Oil House buildings
    • the former AST locations
    • demolished housing in the Water Tower and Heliport areas
    •  the Lighthouse building area
  • The elevation of cadmium suggests the weathering of cadmium rich paint occurred or that the disposal of cadmium containing substances occurred in these areas. Elevated arsenic concentrations were found in the following areas:
    •     the fuel pipeline near the Fog Signal buildingPaint Locker and Oil House.  Photo:  EA Engineering
    •     in and adjacent to the burn barrel
    •     former AST locations near the Paint Locker
  • This suggests that the locations may have been utilized in the past to store or dispose of arsenic containing substances such as herbicides.  Elevated levels of petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations were found at the following locations
    • behind the Fog Signal building
    • around the Pain Locker and Oil House buildings
    • along the fuel pipeline
    • in and adjacent to the burn barrel
    • adjacent to the valve box at the former fuel bunker
    • beneath the former AST locations
  • These levels suggest that past leaks or spills may have occurred in the fuel lines, AST locations, or the former fuel bunker.
  • The elevated concentrations of lead, cadmium, arsenic and petroleum hydrocarbons detected in the soil were compared to the Washington State Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) Method A Cleanup Levels.  The petroleum hydrocarbon contaminated soil did not exceed the cleanup threshold values, but the lead, cadmium, and arsenic concentrations did exceed the threshold values in many instances.
  • Additional investigation to determine the ecological risk to wildlife relative to lead, cadmium, arsenic, and petroleum hydrocarbon contamination found at the site is advisable to assess remedial alternatives.

Learn more by reading the full report:
Hazardous Materials and Environmental Assessment Report: Destruction Island, Washington.  Prepared for the US Fish and Wildlife Service by EA Engineering, Science, and Technology.  January 2000.

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