Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tacoma Smelter Plume: Vashon Island Public Meeting Recap

By Hannah Aoyagi, Public Involvement Coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program

Last Wednesday, Vashon Island set a record for the largest public meeting any of our staff had ever witnessed. We had nearly 200 island residents in attendance, prompting a run for extra coffee cups!

We already had a large crowd by 6:00 p.m. and a lively open house session. After many good one-on-one conversations, we began the presentation (available on the comment period webpage). The question-and-answer session lasted an hour and a half and covered a wide range of topics.

Here are a few of the major questions and concerns we heard:
  • As in the Tacoma meeting, how much risk do arsenic and lead really pose?

  • Impacts on local farming—vegetables, fruits, and livestock.

  • Impacts on property values.

  • Disclosing contamination when selling a home (also covered in the Tacoma meeting).

  • Does drinking water pose a risk?

  • Can this project help provide jobs on the island?

  • How can someone find out what’s in their soil without waiting years for Ecology’s program?
I will be blogging about some of these questions and concerns. We will address the rest of them in the “responsiveness summary” for the comment period (available around February of 2012).

A responsiveness summary lists all written comments Ecology receives, and answers major questions. Sometimes we get hundreds of comments and cannot respond to each and every one, but often several people have the same question.

The photo? Taken at Lisabeula Park on south Vashon, in warmer times.

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