Friday, November 4, 2011

Tacoma Smelter Plume: Tacoma Public Meeting Recap

By Hannah Aoyagi, Public Involvement Coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program

Wednesday night, we held our first of four public meetings on a draft cleanup plan for the Tacoma Smelter Plume. Around 45 community members attended the event at Point Defiance Elementary School in Tacoma. After our slide presentation, we had a lively question and answer session that lasted nearly an hour!

We received a number of great questions from local residents and other stakeholders. Here are a few the questions and concerns we heard...

Will Ecology be doing more sampling in the Ruston and north Tacoma Superfund area?

Many of Wednesday's attendees lived in or near the Superfund site. We do plan to go back into the Superfund area and offer cleanup for yards that have contamination between:
  • Ecology's action level100 parts per million arsenic — and
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) action level — 230 parts per million arsenic.
We may take more soil samples, if needed, but we mainly plan to use the samples EPA took.

How much risk do arsenic and lead really pose?

Arsenic and lead are toxic and pose a risk to human health, especially for infants and children. The risk depends on how much you are exposed to and how sensitive you are. Our state cleanup law, passed by voter initiative, is designed to protect the most sensitive people, like children. This topic deserves its own blog, so we'll be posting something soon...

Do I have to disclose contamination if Ecology samples my property?

When selling a property, state law does require disclosing any known soil contamination. We recommend you consult with a real estate attorney if you have questions about disclosure.

Does Ecology really have enough money to clean up such a large area?

One of my next blogs will cover the last question about how we hope to tackle such a huge cleanup site with the funding we have.

For those unable to attend, our presentation slides are available on our comment period webpage.

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