Sunday, April 26, 2015

Tacoma Smelter Plume: A big year ahead for Tacoma Smelter Plume sampling and cleanup

By Jill Reitz, Environmental Planner, Toxics Cleanup Program

This year is turning out to be the busiest year yet for Ecology's sampling and cleanup work in the Tacoma Smelter Plume.  The plume is a 1,000-square-mile-area of arsenic and lead contamination from the former Asarco smelter in north Tacoma.  If you live in north Tacoma or on southern Vashon-Maury Island, you can expect to see our field crews in the area throughout the year.  Read below for more information about our plans for 2015...

2015 Residential Yard Cleanups...

Contractor removes soil on a property in Tacoma, 2014.
This summer, we are planning to remove contaminated soil on up to 100 more yards in the Yard Sampling and Cleanup Program.  We expect to start construction in July and continue through November.  Over 80 yards are located in north Tacoma in the EPA Study Area (see map right) and 17 yards are on south Vashon-Maury Island (see map lower right).  We are also busy meeting with the next group of homeowners to start planning for cleanup in 2016.  Never a dull moment!

Sampling of Residential Yards Continues...

Cleanup progress in the EPA Stuy Area in north
Tacoma, as of Feb.1, 2015
Since 2013, Ecology and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department have sampled over 2,000 yards within the Yard Program service area, working neighborhood by neighborhood. This year, we plan to sample another 750 in Tacoma and up to 150 on Vashon-Maury Island.  To learn more about sampling or to sign up, visit our sampling webpage.

Cleaning up child play areas and parks...

This summer, Ecology's Soil Safety Program will replace contaminated soils in some play areas at Tacoma's Baltimore Park and Optimist Park. Cleanups will begin around July 2015. We will send out more information and hold a neighborhood meeting about the cleanups in early June. If you'd like to be on our email or mail list, please contact Amy Hargrove, Cleanup Manager, at (360) 407-6262 or

Cleanup progress on Vashon-Maury Island, as of 
April 15, 2015.

Follow our sampling and cleanup work in 2015...

  • Ecology's website: Check out our webpage for updates.
  • Sign up for email updates on our listserv.
  • Follow our blog!
  • Attend one of our neighborhood meetings. Our next meeting is:
May 6, 2015 -- 6:30-8:00 p.m.
McMurray Middle School, 9329 SW Cemetery Road, Vashon, WA.


Please call the project line at (360) 407-7688 and press 2 for Tacoma Smelter Plume or email me at

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