Portions of a public beach will close for about three weeks this month while Pierce County removes approximately 200 derelict creosote pilings from the shoreline along Chambers Creek Regional Park in University Place.
Work will begin July 8 at the south portion of the beach, including the off-leash dog area, and move north. Beach access will be restricted in the immediate area surrounding the work.
The pilings were part of structures such as piers that were used to bring raw materials out to barges for transport around Puget Sound. More than a century of sand and gravel mining resulted in 500 derelict creosote pilings along the 2.5 miles of shoreline at the increasingly popular park. Since they are no longer part of a structure, they are classified as “derelict.”
This project removes 30 to 40 tons of creosote from the shoreline environment. Creosote is a heavy, oily liquid made from coal tar or wood tar and used as a wood preservative. Removal of the pilings will help restore intertidal and near shore habitats and improve overall water quality.
“Removing these derelict pilings creates a more vibrant and healthy environment for humans and wildlife,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “It also improves the visual appeal of the beach, which is increasingly popular as people discover the access we provide to our wonderful shoreline.”
A vibratory hammer will be used to remove the pilings. The hammer vibrations loosen the piling as it is pulled up.
“This method helps us avoid pulling out large blocks of soil, reducing the risk that the pile will break,” said Bob Vogel, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities project engineer. “If the pile breaks and cannot be removed using another method, the pile may be cut a minimum of two feet below the existing beach grade.”
Neptune Marine will serve as the contractor. Pierce County received a $160,000 Model Toxics Act grant administered by the Washington State Department of Ecology for the project. Pierce County will continue to pursue additional grant funding to remove the remaining derelict pilings.
More information about the property is available online here.