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.
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:
- City Hall News: Tacoma Smelter Plume cleanup, public art restoration project and Presidents Day (Tacoma Daily Index, February 14, 2014)
- Dept. of Ecology seeks public input on Asarco smelter cleanup plan (Tacoma Daily Index, March 13, 2013)
- Tacoma City Council to discuss Tacoma Smelter Plume cleanup program (Tacoma Daily Index, February 15, 2013)
- Dept. of Natural Resources, Point Ruston reach agreement on ASARCO site cleanup (Tacoma Daily Index, October 18, 2012)
- Dept. of Ecology plan aims to clean up Tacoma Smelter Plume properties (Tacoma Daily Index, October 20, 2011)
- Tacoma Smelter Plume update leads Tacoma City Council study session agenda (Tacoma Daily Index, August 22, 2011)
- ASARCO settlement money funds new soil cleanups (Tacoma Daily Index, July 6, 2010)
- Next round of cleanup starting at former Asarco slag site (Tacoma Daily Index, July 8, 2009)
- Gregoire: $164 million Asarco collection near (Tacoma Daily Index, June 10, 2009)
- EPA orders Asarco to finish smelter cleanup (Tacoma Daily Index, March 6, 2002)