Department of Ecology News Release - February 26, 2014

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Busy year planned for arsenic cleanup in northeast Everett

BELLEVUE – The ongoing Washington Department of Ecology cleanup of arsenic-contaminated soil in yards, parks and other areas will move forward on several fronts in 2014.

Contamination from arsenic, lead and other metals was detected at the former Everett Smelter property in 1990. Studies also showed that arsenic and lead from smokestack emissions settled onto the ground in northeastern Everett. The fallout impacted about 500 private residences, three city parks, and commercial and industrial areas.

Ecology staff will talk with residents and answer questions about this year’s plans during a community meeting on March 11. The meeting is scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Snohomish County Public Utility District Building, 2320 California St.

Residential yard cleanups continue

This spring, Ecology contractors will wrap up yard cleanups at 21 properties east and west of Marine View Drive near Eighth and Ninth streets, plus one property on Legion Way. Crews have been removing contaminated soil and are restoring landscaping.

Cleanup will continue this summer at a new group of 20 properties on Sixth, Seventh and Eighth streets between Winton and Wayne avenues. Also during this year, Ecology plans to sample and analyze soil samples from about 100 residential yards. Ecology contacted homeowners and residents in January about the sampling.

Soil cleanup slated for American Legion Memorial Park and Arboretum

Ecology is also working with the city of Everett to clean up soil at American Legion Memorial Park and Arboretum beginning in November this year. (Work will continue through spring 2015.) Soil samples collected in 2012 showed no immediate health threat to park users, but soil in some locations contained arsenic concentrations above state cleanup levels. Two additional city-owned parks, Wiggums Hollow and Viola Oursler Overlook, will be cleaned up in 2015-16. Ecology will also complete sampling in the overlook area at American Legion Memorial Park this spring.

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 Everett Housing Authority property. The city maintains the ballfield.

$34 million for cleanup work

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.

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.

Soil safety information is available

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.

 People can also call the local information line at 425-530-5169 to speak to an Ecology staff member.

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Media Contacts:

Meg Bommarito, Ecology project manager for the Everett Smelter cleanup, 425-649-7256

Meghan Pembroke, Everett media relations, 425-257-8687

For more information:

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