Friday, October 2, 2015

Everett Smelter’s Lowlands area moves two steps closer to cleanup

By Marieke Rack, Community Outreach and Environmental Education Specialist, Toxics Cleanup Program

By completing two recent reports, Ecology has taken key steps towards identifying possible cleanup methods in the Lowlands Area (industrial east side of the Everett Smelter Site).

The Supplemental Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study are environmental reports that describe the contamination and the possible strategies for cleanup. These reports are available for your review and comment from October 5 through November 3. Visit the Lowlands area website to view the documents and find out how to provide comments.

What’s in the Reports?

  • The nature and extent of contamination in the Lowlands.
  • Locations of Lowlands contamination and where cleanup is needed.

  • Evaluates possible cleanup alternatives and technologies for each contaminated area in the Lowlands.
  • Proposes preferred cleanup actions to address each contaminated area.

What Happens After the Comment Period and Public Meeting?

After the public comment period, Ecology will review and consider all comments that have been received. Changes may be made to the documents, then the Supplemental Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study will be finalized.

Ecology will develop a draft Cleanup Action Plan and hold a public comment period for the draft plan. The Cleanup Action Plan will be finalized and cleanup actions will begin when funding is available.

A Brief History of the Lowlands Area:

The industrial Lowlands Area of the Everett Smelter Cleanup site sits along the Snohomish River’s west bank in north Everett. The Lowlands was contaminated by the historic operations of Asarco’s Everett Smelter. The smelter was located at the current day intersection of State Route 529 and East Marine View Drive.

During smelter operations the Lowlands was an undeveloped flood plain and tide flats area. Slag and debris (smelting waste material) was dumped onto and down the bank to the Lowlands. These materials, along with air deposition from smelter smokestacks, contaminated the Lowlands.

The smelter operated from 1894 to 1912. In 1914, Weyerhaeuser acquired most of the Lowlands.
As Weyerhaeuser decommissioned its operations decades later, the company’s environmental investigations found elevated levels of arsenic and lead in the soil and groundwater.

Further investigations determined that historic smelter operations had contaminated a large area of north Everett. Cleanup was prioritized in the residential Uplands portion of the site. Ecology completed a Cleanup Action Plan for the Uplands in 1999. 

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