The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Navy, the Suquamish Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kitsap County, and Kitsap Public Health District recently completed a collaborative, years-long cleanup of the Bremerton Landfill-Gorst Creek site on Highway 3.

The organizations partnered to excavate and remove almost 340,000 tons of debris and hazardous materials from the six-acre site, which operated mainly as an auto wrecking landfill from the 1950s to 1989. Their work is helping to prevent further downstream pollution and to protect water quality for both humans and animals. The cleanup also restored over 1,000 feet of Gorst Creek that had been covered by the landfill for decades.

“With our partners the U.S. Navy, the Suquamish Tribe, and state and local agencies, we accomplished a significant cleanup and helped restore Gorst Creek, vital and much needed habitat for fish and wildlife in the Puget Sound watershed,” said EPA Region 10 Deputy Regional Administrator Michelle Pirzadeh.

Aside from the trash and debris that were removed from the landfill in over 10,000 truckloads, other materials were recovered and recycled for later use. Over 100 tons of granite were donated to Olympic College and to Bremerton, Kitsap, and Poulsbo parks departments to re-use for outdoor projects. Just under 900 tons of scrap metal, tires, and concrete were also recycled or re-purposed. Many trees and other plants were spared to be re-planted to help with erosion control and habitat restoration.

“The removal of the Gorst landfill is a great accomplishment.  It improves habitat for endangered native salmon and shows how we can right the errors of our past. This project demonstrates how all of us can turn the tide for the future of this sacred resource and improve the health of the environment for generations to come,” said Leonard Forsman, chairman of the Suquamish Tribe.

The Navy agreed to pay for the landfill cleanup, as per the terms of a 2016 settlement with the EPA. The project is estimated to cost almost $30 million.

Over the course of the next two years, the EPA will continue to monitor the site to ensure the survival of native plants and to stop the spread of invasive species.