Newhalem Penstock Saddle Replacement
The National Park Service (NPS) is conducting a time-critical removal action (TCRA) in accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to eliminate potential risks to public health, welfare, and the environment from the release or threat of release of hazardous substances along the Newhalem Penstock within Ross Lake National Recreation Area. A TCRA has been approved by the Regional Director of the National Park Service (NPS) because these risks dictated that the response action be commenced as expeditiously as possible, with initiation of on-site work within six (6) months of the NPS decision to proceed with the action. Funding for the removal action is being provided by the Potentially Responsible Party, Seattle City Light (SCL). On-site project work began in late September 2016 and is expected to be completed by the end of October 2017, if not sooner.
The Newhalem Creek Hydroelectric Project is located across the Skagit River from Newhalem, WA. Seattle City Light operates the project, comprising a powerhouse, penstock, bedrock power tunnel, and creek diversion structure, under a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license. The 30-inch diameter penstock is 1,122 feet long and conveys water to the Newhalem powerhouse. Approximately 904 feet of the penstock is above ground and rests on wood frame supports, or pedestals, with bases of wood, concrete, or stone. Built in the 1920s, the penstock and its wooden supports are now over 75 years old and can no longer safely support the penstock.
In order to comply with FERC dam safety guidelines, SCL is replacing the badly deteriorated wooden saddles, the majority of which (52) are made from treated wood, which have deteriorated over time. Several of these saddles were burned in the August 2015 wildland fire and temporary supports were installed at four saddle locations as an emergency project to prevent the penstock from being damaged by buckling. SCL is now replacing the 52 wooden saddles, including the five temporary supports, with permanent cast-in-place concrete saddles. Soils around the penstock are known to contain elevated levels of lead, arsenic, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The lead is from old paint on the penstock; the arsenic and PAHs are from the treated timbers used for the saddles. Contaminated soils will be excavated as part of removing the wooden saddles and constructing formwork for cast-in-place concrete footings and saddles. The approval of the TCRA authorized the removal and disposal of contaminated soil that had to be excavated to complete the scope of work during the penstock saddle replacement project.
The Administrative Record for this action is open for public inspection and comment from March 8 through April 7, 2017. Please click on the "Open for Comment" link (at left) to review and comment on these documents.
During the comment period, you may submit comments through this website, through the regular mail, or by hand delivery. The most efficient way for the NPS to process your comments is to receive them through this website. To do so, simply open the Administrative Record and follow the links for "comment now". Comments may also be sent directly to: Superintendent's Office, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, 810 State Route 20, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284.
Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be made publically available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
Elizabeth Boerke, Environmental Protection Specialist, 360-854-7328