Contaminated soil cleanup planned at Vassault Park

The Washington Department of Ecology will begin replacing arsenic-contaminated soils next month at Tacoma's Vassault Park playfields.

The Washington Department of Ecology will begin replacing arsenic-contaminated soils next month at Tacoma’s Vassault Park playfields.

The cleanup, covering 8.5 acres and at a cost of $2.5 million, will be the largest in the history of the Department of Ecology’s Soil Safety Program, which provides free soil sampling and cleanup for park, school, and childcare play areas. Funding comes from a $95 million settlement with Asarco, which operated the former Tacoma copper smelter near Ruston. Emissions from the facility contaminated a 1,000-square-mile area of surface soils with arsenic and lead.

Work at Vassault Park will run through October and the playfields will remain closed until summer of 2015 to protect the new grass. The tennis courts and playground will remain open throughout the project. The Sound to Narrows race finishes at Vassault Park. Following construction, Metro Parks Tacoma will assess whether staging for the 2015 race can be adjusted at Vassault or temporarily relocated. Metro Parks Tacoma is adding $200,000 to the project, taking advantage of the construction work to make crucial drainage fixes before new soils go in.

“Coordinating needed improvements to the drainage system at Vassault with Ecology’s cleanup work is just common sense,” said Metro Parks Tacoma Board President Tim Reid. “The public benefit of our agencies taking time to work together for the common good of the community provides great cost savings versus resolving our mutual issues independently.”

In related cleanup work, the Department of Ecology will replace soils in 50 residential yards in neighborhoods north of Vassault Park. A public meeting about that work will be held on Tues., June 17, between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., in the cafeteria at Point Defiance Elementary School, located at 4330 N. Visscher, in Tacoma.

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To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of cleanup efforts related to the former Asarco copper smelter site in Tacoma, click on the following links:

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