Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tacoma Smelter Plume: University Place Public Meeting Recap

By Hannah Aoyagi, Public Involvement Coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program

Last night, we held our third of four public meetings for the Tacoma Smelter Plume cleanup plan in the cafeteria at Curtis High School. The crowd was smaller than our group on Vashon last week, with 32 in attendance.

People came from all over the Pierce County part of the plume. We heard many of the same concerns voiced at the meetings in Tacoma and on Vashon Island. However, the group raised some new issues that prompted discussion among the participants:
  • Could Ecology start a grant program to help developers pay for sampling and cleanup using funds from the proposed education and outreach budget?

  • Is there a need for citizen volunteers to help with outreach or even soil sampling?

  • Homebuyers should be educated about soil contamination but Ecology should not require sellers to do soil sampling and cleanup.

  • Can Ecology prioritize cleanup for homes with young children?
A major point of contention was whether our proposed work would stigmatize homes in the plume area and decrease property values. Would it be better to not know what was in the soil? One audience member responded that "we are all in this together, as a community" and that we should "do the best we can to face the problem."

We agree.

We have a duty to protect human health and the environment. Given what we already know about the contamination, we have an obligation to inform the public and do the best we can to protect communities.

Next Meeting

We are just about halfway through the public comment period, which ends December 20th.

The final public meeting will be Tuesday, December 6th, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the Des Moines Activity Center (2045 South 216th St. in Des Moines).

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