Tacoma City Council to discuss Tacoma Smelter Plume cleanup program

Tacoma City Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday at City Hall to be briefed on the Washington State Department of Ecology’s plan to clean up the former Asarco copper smelter site.

For nearly 100 years, Asarco operated a copper smelter in the Ruston/Tacoma area. According to Dept. of Ecology officials, winds carried the smelter’s air emissions, which deposited arsenic and lead on soils in parts of King, Pierce, Thurston, and Kitsap counties, to a 1,000-square-mile area now known as the Tacoma Smelter Plume. The Dept. of Ecology began working on the Tacoma Smelter Plume more than a decade ago, starting with education and outreach. The plume is too large to clean up all soils, according to Dept. of Ecology officials, so a plan under way aims to clean up play areas and yards in the most contaminated areas.

During the study session Tuesday, councilmembers will be briefed on the plan, which is funded by a $94 million settlement with Asarco, and its four main components: a residential sampling and remediation program; a soil safety program; ongoing education and outreach; and encouraging sampling and cleanup during development.

Councilmembers will not take public comment during the study session, which will be held on Tues., Feb. 19 at 12 p.m. in Room 16 of Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market St. Audio from the meeting will be broadcast live on TV Tacoma and online at tvtacoma.com. On-demand audio archives are available on the Web within 24 hours of the meeting online at tvtacoma.com.