Monday, September 23, 2013

Tacoma Smelter Plume: Sampling begins on southern Vashon-Maury Island and in north Tacoma

By Jill Jacobson, Yard Program Outreach Coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program

Ecology's Residential Yard Sampling and Cleanup Program (Yard Program) has started soil sampling in north Tacoma and on southern Vashon-Maury Island.
We are sampling residential yards for arsenic and lead contamination from the former Tacoma Asarco smelter.

To find out if your property is in the Yard Program service area, please visit our interactive map.

Sampling Schedule

Ecology plans to sample thousands of properties within the Yard Program service area (map to right), working neighborhood by neighborhood.
Tacoma Area
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) is leading the sampling efforts in west Tacoma. TPCHD started contacting homeowners and collecting samples last month in area A of Pierce County (map to right).
Vashon-Maury Island

Ecology sent letters to offer soil sampling to 350 homeowners in area A of Vashon-Maury Island. During the first week of October, Ecology's sampling team will begin knocking on the doors of homes that have not responded. They will begin sampling in Area A during the second week of October.
To learn more about Ecology's schedule in your neighborhood, please visit the Yard Program webpage or contact Jill Jacobson, Yard Program Outreach Coordinator at (360) 407-6245 or

Soil Sampling Steps

Soil sampling takes about 1-2 hours. The samplers will dig 16-32 small, six inch deep holes and refill them.
Once the lab results are ready, Ecology will send the results to the homeowner with a letter explaining next steps.
If the yard qualifies for cleanup, Ecology will remove the contaminated soil, replace it with new soil and restore the landscaping.

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