Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tacoma Smelter Plume: Soil cleanup and signs planned for Federal Way parks

By Hannah Aoyagi, Tacoma Smelter Plume Project, Toxics Cleanup Program

Three Federal Way parks have arsenic and lead soil contamination from the former Asarco smelter in north Tacoma.  This fall, we are cleaning up the worst of the contamination and putting up signs in places we can't do cleanup.

Lake Grove Park

Part of the park (photo to right) has some very high lead levels.  In this area, we will be digging out contaminated soil and replacing it with clean soil and sod.  In the woods, we can't dig because it could damage the trees.  Here, we will put up signs to encourage people to stay on paved paths and take healthy actions to limit their exposure. 

Adelaide and Heritage Woods Parks

At both parks, only one sample out of many had elevated arsenic and it was outside of the play area.  We won't remove any soils, but we will use signs to let people know about how to limit exposure.

Contamination has been in the soil for decades--why put up signs now?

In the summer of 2010, with new funding from a settlement with Asarco, we were able to include parks in the Soil Safety Program.  Until then, we only had funding to work on school and childcare play areas.

We spend the next year doing soil sampling for arsenic and lead at park play areas throughout the Soil Safety Program service area.  Once we got the results, we began working with park districts to plan cleanup work.  The results also helped us figure out where parks should post signs.

What about other parks in Federal Way?

Most parks in Federal Way have arsenic and lead below state cleanup levels and do not need cleanup.

Open house events this summer

We are holding open houses at each of the three parks to provide more information about soil contamination and what we're doing about it.  All events are on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
  • July 11, 2012 at Heritage Woods Park, 28200 24th Place S
  • July 18, 2012 at Adelaide Park, 30196 16th Avenue SW
  • August 1, 2012 at Lake Grove Park, 833 SW 308th Street

More information
For more details about the Lake Grove Park cleanup and a complete list of parks sampled in Federal Way, please see our fact sheet.  For more about the risk from soils at parks, check out our blog about Dottie Harper Park in Burien.

No comments: