Environmental Health
Hazardous Waste
Hazardous Waste - Response
  Site Hazard Assessments (SHA)  
  Site Hazard Assessment Components  l  Meth Drug Labs  

The goal of the Site Hazard Assessment (SHA) is to investigate and analyze potential hazardous waste sites in Thurston County.

Information is collected about environmental conditions, waste types, and waste quantities at sites which may adversely affect the environment by the release of hazardous contaminants. Information is collected through interviews, field screening, sampling and other data collecting methods.

The information is used to evaluate environmental and human health risks and to assess sites under the Washington Ranking Method. Ecology's Site Hazard Assessment Guidance and Procedures for the Washington Ranking Method will be used to direct our fieldwork. Site hazard assessments, as defined in Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA), will be generated based on the information gathered during the project.

Site Hazard Assessment Components

A site hazard assessment provides Ecology with basic information about a site. Thurston County then uses the Washington Ranking Method (WARM) to estimate the potential threat the site poses, if not cleaned up, to human health and the environment. The estimate is based on the amount of contaminants, how toxic they are, and how easily they can come in contact with people and the environment. The SHA assigns a rank to the contaminated site: a number between 1 and 5, where a score of 1 represents the highest level of risk and 5 the lowest. Sites receiving a rank of 1 or 2 are generally considered the highest priority for cleanup by Ecology. Sites that do not pose a risk to human health or the environment receive a determination of No Further Action. Hazard ranking helps Ecology target where to spend cleanup funds and to prioritize their work plans. The following components are part of a site hazard assessment.

Initial Investigation

An initial investigation is an inspection of a suspected contaminated site. Under state regulations, the health department is required to conduct the inspection within 90 days and document current conditions at the site. The purpose of the initial investigation is to determine whether a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance may have occurred that warrants further action. Sites that contain, or are suspected to contain, a release of hazardous substances are listed on the Department of Ecology’s Confirmed & Suspected Contaminated Sites list for further action under state regulations.

Sampling and Analysis Plan

Investigate reports of illegal drug lab sites. Assess properties for contamination, sample, determine fitness for continued occupancy, post notices as required by law, review clean-up plans and final clean-up reports. Staff coordinates with law enforcement, Ecology, the Department of Health, the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and others. For more information, see the Washington State Department of Health Drug Lab Cleanup Program.

Health and Safety Plan

A health and safety plan is developed by the County to assure the safety of site investigators concurrently with the sampling and analysis plan. The Plan will be written in accordance with all State and Federal Rules and Regulations.


A map is produced of the site, including all structures, wells, drainfield, vegetative areas, paved areas, waste storage area(s), and sampling locations.

Site Investigation and Sampling

A site investigation is conducted, which may include sampling of groundwater and/or surface water, soils, gas, or the collection of other relevant information according to the sampling plan.

Methamphetamine Drug Labs

Washington State Dept of Ecology regulations (Chapter 64.44 RCW, Contaminated Properties, and WAC 246-205, Decontamination of Illegal Drug Manufacturing or Storage Sites) govern Thurston County Health Department actions relating to drug lab sites.

In 1992, WAC 246-205 was revised to incorporate specific requirements regarding drug lab sites which were delegated directly to local health officers. (The authority to administer the provisions of WAC 246-205 is granted under RCW 70.05.070.) For more information, see the Washington State Department of Health's Drug Lab Cleanup Program.

The following work is performed by the County Health Department under the provisions of WAC 246-205:

Investigate Illegal Drug Lab Sites

The Thurston County Health Department coordinates with law enforcement, Ecology, the Washington State Department of Health, the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and other agencies as needed on drub lab cases. Specifically, the department will assess properties for contamination, determine fitness for occupancy, and make appropriate notifications as required by state and local guidelines. This will include sampling sites for methamphetamine and other environmental contaminants as appropriate and review clean-up work plans, including pre-assessment reports and final reports. The department will also take enforcement steps as necessary.

Provide Illegal Drug Lab Information

The Thurston County Health Department responds to general questions and public inquiries about possible or confirmed illegal drug manufacturing sites. The department also performs community outreach and awareness related to drug labs through public presentations.

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This page last updated: 08/13/15