Contractor Kiewit General, A Joint Venture faces a $90,000 penalty from the Washington Department of Ecology for failing to properly decommission 15 groundwater monitoring wells at a construction site in Aberdeen.

The Washington State Department of Transportation hired Kiewit to build the pontoon construction facility for the new SR 520 floating bridge. Prior to building the facility, 36 temporary monitoring wells were installed on the property along the Chehalis River as part of an environmental assessment to monitor groundwater.

Kiewit used licensed drillers to properly decommission 21 temporary monitoring wells during the initial clearing of the pontoon construction facility property between February and May 2011. Kiewit General informed Ecology in April 2015 that another 15 wells were not properly decommissioned and had been paved over or built upon.

“We work to ensure a level playing field for property owners and the well construction industry, no matter who they’re working with,” said Mike Gallagher, southwest region section manager for Ecology’s Water Resources Program. “Unfortunately, Kiewit didn’t take the right steps to properly manage the remaining wells at the pontoon facility.”

The temporary monitoring wells were not properly sealed and decommissioned before removal, violating state law and putting groundwater at risk of contamination. Ecology regulates well construction and decommissioning to prevent environmental harm and protect natural resources. When wells are decommissioned, state law requires using a licensed driller to seal the wells and report the closures to Ecology.

“Wells are a direct conduit to our groundwater, and there’s a serious contamination threat when they’re not properly closed,” said Gallagher.

Kiewit General can appeal the penalty within 30 days to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.