Washington State Department of Ecology - October 2, 2013

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Arsenic cleanup of more yards continues in northeast Everett

BELLEVUE – The ongoing Department of Ecology (Ecology) cleanup of arsenic-contaminated soil in the yards of northeastern Everett homes will move to 23 private homes in the vicinity of East Marine View Drive and 8th and 9th streets. The project will start Oct. 7, 2013, and last three to five months.

During work hours (7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday), a consultant will be available on site to assist residents with questions, concerns or problems. Special measures will be taken to control dust, allow access to the homes and reduce noise and other impacts from the work. Each yard will be restored with fresh topsoil, grass and landscaping.

Ecology, the city of Everett and the Everett Housing Authority (EHA) also are planning soil cleanups at three parks: American Legion Memorial, Wiggums Hollow and Viola Oursler Overlook. Soil samples collected in 2011 showed no immediate health threat to park users, but soil in some locations contained arsenic concentrations above state cleanup levels.

Everett owns American Legion Memorial and Viola Oursler parks. The city also owns Wiggums Hollow Park, except for the grass ballfield south of the playground, which is EHA property. The city maintains the ballfield.

Ecology and Everett are planning the cleanup, and expect to complete the work in American Legion Memorial Park by summer 2015. Additional park cleanup, in Wiggums Hollow and Viola Oursler Parks, will most likely be completed in 2015-16.

Cleanup work and sampling will continue over the next several years in the area west of East Marine View Drive impacted by the former Asarco Smelter. The smelter operated from 1894 to 1912 at what is now the intersection of Marine View Drive and Broadway.

Contamination from arsenic, lead and other metals was detected at the former smelter property in 1990. Studies also showed that arsenic and lead from smokestack emissions settled onto the ground in the northeastern part of the city. About 500 private residences were impacted along with three city parks and commercial and industrial areas.

Funding for the residential cleanup work comes from a $34 million share of the state’s $188 million bankruptcy settlement in 2009 with Asarco Inc., the last owner of the Everett Smelter. Testing and cleanup work is free to property owners. Participation is voluntary.

The 2013 state Legislature set aside $4.75 million in Ecology’s capital budget for the park cleanups.

Ecology is also investigating industrial properties along the waterfront and areas east of East Marine View Drive. That investigation – expected by the end of the year – will identify and address smelter contamination in that area. Ecology will then prepare a feasibility study to examine possible cleanup alternatives. The department will ask for public comment in 2014 on the investigation and feasibility study reports.

A general cleanup action plan for residential and commercial areas was first developed and finalized in 1999 by Ecology and community members. Several years ago, the city independently began contamination cleanup at American Legion Memorial Golf Course.

Ecology, the EHA and the city worked together to clean up about 100 properties on the most contaminated parts of the site between 1999 and 2007.

Park users and people who live in the overall cleanup area should follow the soil safety guidelines recommended by Ecology and the Washington State Department of Health to protect themselves and their families from exposure. The primary route of exposure is through swallowing soil. Arsenic is not readily absorbed through the skin. Guidelines include common hygiene practices of washing hands after playing at the park and before eating, leaving shoes at the door, and keeping homes swept and dusted.

More information on the cleanup is available on Ecology’s Everett Smelter web page. (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites_brochure/asarco/es_main.html.)

Citizens may meet with Ecology staff members, who will be available on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Liberty Hall, Everett Community College, on the corner of 10th and Broadway. Staff will answer questions and share information, including fact sheets, cleanup schedules, traffic routes around work sites, and the project’s progress.

People can also call the local information line at 425-446-1024 to speak to an Ecology staff member. # # #

Media Contacts:

 Meg Bommarito, Ecology site manager for the Everett Smelter cleanup, 425-649-7256, meg.bommarito@ecy.wa.gov

 Robert Warren, regional section manager for Ecology’s Toxics Cleanup Program, 425-649-7054, bob.warren@ecy.wa.gov

 Larry Altose, Ecology media relations, 425-649-7009, larry.altose@ecy.wa.gov

 Meghan Pembroke, Everett media relations, 425-257-8687, mpembroke@ci.everett.wa.us

For more information:

Everett Smelter web page (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites_brochure/asarco/es_main.html)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)