Monday, August 31, 2015

Tacoma Smelter Plume: Work begins to clean up Baltimore and Optimist parks; Vassault Park re-opens

By Stacy Galleher, Public Involvement Coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program

Ecology’s Soil Safety Program has started construction work to replace contaminated soils at the playfields at Baltimore and Optimist parks in Tacoma. The former Asarco copper smelter in Tacoma contaminated 1,000 square miles with arsenic and lead from its smokestack.

Construction schedule and closed areas
Baltimore Park maps showing closed and construction areas.

Baltimore Park:

Baltimore Park closed Aug. 24 when the construction fence was placed around it. Construction started Aug. 26.

We are replacing the top 12 inches of soil in the play area outlined in orange. We will dig a shallower depth around the trees to protect the roots (see map).

Optimist Park
Optimist Park maps showing closed and construction areas
At Optimist Park, construction will start in mid-September as soon as we place new soil at Baltimore Park. Then both parks will be seeded with grass at the same time.

We will replace the top six inches of soil in the play areas outlined in orange (see map). We will dig a shallower depth around the trees to protect the roots. We are not removing soil within the ball field because it has arsenic and lead below cleanup levels.

At both parks, construction will continue through November. Also, the playfields will remain closed until summer of 2016 to protect the new grass and allow time for it to grow.

Want more information?

Go Enjoy Vassault Park!
After the large 8-acre cleanup effort, Vassault Park re-opened to the public last week. Thanks for your patience during the longer-than-expected closure. The lawn is finally fully grown, healthy, and ready for use.

Questions about the cleanup?
Contact Ecology project manager Amy Hargrove at (360) 407-6262 or
Contact Metro Parks project manager Sarah Hamel at (253) 305-1056 or

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