Innovating to Zero


A biofilter storm water treatment system at the Santa Susana remediation site

In the past year, Boeing has met key milestones and is making steady progress in cleaning up and restoring the environment at sites affected by past business practices.

Boeing’s remediation program is guided by input from neighborhood and community groups and close collaboration with federal, state and local regulatory agencies. Boeing’s community outreach and public education programs received special recognition in 2012 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Wildlife Habitat Council.

Remediation is largely performed at former manufacturing sites and facilities where Boeing, or acquired companies, shipped chemicals and other waste for treatment, storage or disposal. In many cases, waste-processing facilities that used treatment methods considered best practices in the past are being cleaned up to meet or exceed current environmental standards.

The Lower Duwamish Waterway

In early 2013 Boeing completed the first phase of removing an estimated 200,000 cubic yards (152,911 cubic meters) of contaminated sediment and replacing it with clean sand along a half-mile stretch of the Lower Duwamish Waterway near its former Plant 2 site in Seattle. Construction also began on the first section of a planned 5-acre (2-hectare) wetland and habitat project that will provide an important ecological resource to improve Puget Sound fish runs.

Dredging the riverbed and restoring the waterway’s shoreline and wildlife habitat are expected to be completed by 2015. Boeing’s Plant 2 was demolished in 2011 to make way for the cleanup and restoration project.

Duwamish Waterway dredging

Boeing completed the first phase of removing contaminated sediment and replacing it with clean sand along a half-mile stretch of the Lower Duwamish Waterway. (Boeing photo)

This work at the former Plant 2 site is one of several "early actions" in the larger Superfund project to clean-up a five-mile stretch of the industrial Lower Duwamish Waterway. Boeing is one partner -- along with the city of Seattle, King County, the Port of Seattle and other businesses along the waterway -- in the overall cleanup effort.

Santa Susana

Boeing is using natural processes to help clean up storm water at its Santa Susana site. Engineers installed an innovative biofilter storm water treatment system that uses natural settling, plants, soil processes and specially designed filter media to capture sediment and pollutants before releasing cleaner water back into the watershed.

The newly installed $600,000 system supports Boeing’s overall strategy to use natural processes to treat storm water at Santa Susana and is one component of the company’s comprehensive surface water treatment program. This system supplements other state-of-the art treatment systems the company is utilizing to manage storm water and groundwater at the site.

Since acquiring a portion of the site in 1996 as part of the defense and space businesses of Rockwell International, Boeing’s team of geologists, engineers and experts in surface water, ground water and radiation have been working to clean up the 2,850-acre (1,153-hectare) facility.

Other Santa Susana cleanup activities include removing or treating 74,000 cubic yards -- enough to fill 4,625 dump trucks -- of contaminated soil; installing 400 groundwater monitoring and extraction wells; adding an advanced groundwater treatment system; removing 400 buildings, tanks, test stands and structures; and replanting 900 acres of land with native vegetation and reseeding the area with native plants and grasses. The company’s goal is to complete the cleanup and preserve the site as open space park land.

The site is increasingly recognized as a critical bird and pollinator habitat, and in 2012 the national Wildlife Habitat Council awarded Boeing the "Corporate Lands for Learning" certification to honor the company’s education programs at Santa Susana.

Chemical Commodities, Inc.

The EPA recognized Boeing’s environmental achievements in 2012 with one of its highest honors -- the Leading Environmentalism and Forwarding Sustainability (LEAFS) award -- for the company’s work cleaning up and revitalizing a Superfund site in Olathe, Kan. It was the first time the EPA presented the award in Region 7, which covers several Midwestern states.

The 1.5-acre (0.6-hectare) Chemical Commodities, Inc. site near Kansas City was operated as a chemical brokerage and recycling facility. Rocketdyne, which was briefly part of Boeing, shipped wastes to the site for recycling for a short time in the 1960s.

Boeing completed construction of the final cleanup remedy in 2011, a full year ahead of schedule. In presenting the LEAFS award, the EPA credited much of the project’s success to Boeing’s extensive outreach to the public and community groups in plans to restore the site and provide pollinator habitat and educational benefits to the community.

The EPA now includes lessons learned from the CCI project in presentations to its project managers about how other sites can implement similar strategies.

Huntington Beach

An innovative use of treated groundwater to cool buildings at Boeing’s Huntington Beach, Calif., site is helping the environment and earning praise for the company’s remediation program from state officials.

Instead of discharging treated groundwater from a site remediation project into the storm sewer, engineers instead designed a system that routes the water to the facility’s cooling tower. This system reduces the facility’s dependence on the city water supply by up to 70 thousand gallons per day, with the overall reuse estimate to be approximately 18 million gallons per year.