Mayor Mike McGinn's plan to relocate the residents of Seattle's two roving homeless encampments--Nickelsville and Tent City--to a permanent location at the former Sunny Jim factory in SoDo hit a snag this past weekend, when it was revealed that a report issued last year showed the site to be contaminated. McGinn hired an environmental consultant weeks ago to prove the site is safe for people. Which is ironic, considering that it's probably been contaminated for a long, long time, and no one thought to raise the safety issue back when Sunny Jim was making peanut butter or, more recently, housing Department of Transportation employees.
The city's report on the recently burned-down factory along Airport Way South, that also houses an SDOT sign maintenance facility, found petroleum byproducts and a toxic cleaning solvent in the groundwater. Where it came from, and when, is unknown and hard to pin down. But there's evidence that the contaminants have been around since long before the city bought the property in 1991.
According to the city's own report, a letter sent nearly 20 years ago from a private attorney to the state Department of Ecology revealed that the site's soil may have been contaminated with diesel-fuel runoff and chromium.
The factory stopped making peanut butter only a few years before those soil tests were taken. Meaning there's a good chance that while political leaders today try to hash out if the site is safe for people who would normally be living under highway overpasses, they're ignoring the fact that it was similarly "unclean" back in the days when kids still ate Sunny Jim PB&Js.