Dept. of Natural Resources, Point Ruston reach agreement on ASARCO site cleanup

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Point Ruston, LLC finalized an agreement to complete the cleanup and remediation of more than 18 acres of state-owned aquatic lands contaminated by nearly 100 years of industrial operations at the former American Smelting and Refining Company (Asarco) site, according to a statement released Thursday.

Point Ruston is undertaking the redevelopment of this 97-acre site, which is currently one of the state’s largest development projects with nearly 1-million square feet of commercial and retail space and 1,200 residential units being developed on this nearly one-mile-long waterfront property. Over the last four years, DNR and Point Ruston engaged in various aspects of the cleanup of the aquatic lands at this site, which is situated along Commencement Bay at the southern end of Puget Sound.

Since 2007, Point Ruston has completed nearly $7.5 million in environmental cleanup of the state aquatic lands, capping more than 10.5 acres of Puget Sound sediments and armoring nearly one mile of shoreline. This latest agreement will result in the capping of the remaining nine acres of state-owned aquatic lands at this site.

“This is the final cleanup to restore our aquatic lands and bring the toxic legacy of this superfund site to an end,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.

“This is a great step forward for the Point Ruston development and cleanup of this site. This settlement takes another step in cleaning up Puget Sound and creating jobs at a time when we need them the most,” said State Senator Derek Kilmer, who was the lead author of the jobs bill that included state funding for the cleanup.

Point Ruston is currently constructing its public Waterwalk esplanade and Peninsula Park in conjunction with DNR, the City of Tacoma, and Metro Parks District of Tacoma. Once work on the sediment capping project is completed, the Waterwalk and Peninsula Park will provide more than one mile — and 22 acres — of additional public waterfront linkage along Ruston Way to the 702-acre Point Defiance Park.

“When we purchased this property in 2006, we took on the daunting task of bringing all of the stakeholders to the table and allocating the costs of this cleanup to the responsible parties,” said Mike Cohen, Managing Partner of the development company behind the Point Ruston project. “Usually a settlement process like this is litigious and unfriendly. However, Commissioner Goldmark stepped up and led the settlement negotiations to a successful conclusion. Put simply, the cleanup, the jobs that will be created, and the public access to one of the most spectacular views of Puget Sound would not be possible without him… it was his leadership that made it happen.”

Congressman Norm Dicks, a longtime supporter of the Point Ruston development and related cleanup, added, “Today’s agreement represents another step forward in our effort to clean up and restore Puget Sound for future generations. I want to congratulate Commissioner Peter Goldmark, State Senator Derek Kilmer, and Point Ruston’s Managing Partner, Mike Cohen, for their unique public-private collaboration that creates jobs while improving the health of Commencement Bay.”