Preliminary drilling results show good news for Freeland wells

The drilling for four groundwater monitoring wells wrapped up in Freeland last week and soil samples taken along the way appear to indicate good news.

According to Paul Grabau, principal hydrogeologist with Farallon Consulting, evidence of petroleum hydrocarbon vapors were found only in the first well in the sea-level aquifer. The other three wells dug were clear, he said.

“It does look pretty good,” Grabau said.

It’s too soon to start celebrating, however, as those were just preliminary results from soil samples. Testing of actual groundwater will begin next week and the information gleaned there will be most revealing.

“That will tell us what we really need to know,” Grabau said.

Farallon Consulting is working on behalf of Marty Winn, the former owner of Whidbey Marine and Auto Supply on Main Street. The gas station, which has since closed, reported a leak of up to 7,000 gallons of gasoline from an underground fuel tank in 2005.

Winn has participated in a voluntary cleanup program for years, but the fuel was found to have reached the sea-level aquifer — about 100 feet down — and is moving south toward the Freeland Water and Sewer District’s primary drinking-water wells on Scenic Avenue.

The four monitoring wells were dug to discover just how far the fuel has traveled. News — even if preliminary — that indicates the fuel may not pose a serious threat to the district’s wells was a big relief to water officials.

“We were pretty freaked out a couple months ago,” said Commissioner Eric Hansen, during the district’s monthly meeting Monday night. “This preliminary indication from the well drilling reveals some pretty good news for us.”

According to Grabau, the “plume” is no longer pure gasoline, but is fuel in a highly dissolved state. Along with the groundwater testing planned for next week, survey work will be performed that will more precisely show the direction the water is moving underground.

“We know it’s south, southeast,” he said, but this will help narrow it down to a matter of degrees.

Grabau said the water quality test results are expected back  before the end of the year, possibly Dec. 17.


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