UW Tacoma site
Do you have questions about cleanup and vapor intrusion at the
UWT site? We have answers.
What is the situation?
In parts of the University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) cleanup site,
groundwater – the water that flows under the ground through soil –
is contaminated with petroleum products or degreasers called
TCE. We believe these chemicals came from a variety of
historical industrial activities, not from university activity. The
contaminated groundwater (called a plume) flows east and northeast
down the hill toward the Thea Foss Waterway. In extreme cases,
vapors from chemicals in the groundwater, soil, sewers, or drain
lines can pose a threat to indoor air quality through
vapor intrusion .
To date, the chemicals found are at low levels and we do not expect
them to pose a risk to human health and the environment. If we do
find that any of these chemicals pose immediate risk, Ecology will
direct UWT to implement interim actions that reduce risk.
Is the drinking water safe?
Yes. The water in homes and businesses in the area comes from
public water systems that are separate from the groundwater at the
UWT site. The Washington Department
of Health regularly monitors these water systems to be sure the
water is safe.
Private wells are not monitored by the health department. Contact
Ecology if you have a private well.
Can I eat fruits and vegetables from my garden?
Studies have been done on garden sites with higher levels of the
same chemicals found at the UWT site. Those studies suggest that
fruit and vegetables from gardens using groundwater containing these
chemicals are safe for adults and children. The chemicals do not
build up in the plant or fruit tissue.
How can these chemicals affect my health or my children's
Vapor intrusion has the potential to cause negative health
impacts in extreme cases. People respond to chemical exposure in
different ways. Some people can have contact with a chemical and
never be harmed. Others may be more sensitive and get sick. Whether
you have a reaction or get sick from contact with chemicals depends
on many factors, including the how often a person is exposed, how
long they are exposed for, and their overall health.
What can I do to stay informed and
To stay up to date on the project, check this website for
updates. You can also contact
Megan MacClellan, the public involvement coordinator for the UWT
cleanup site, to be added to an email or mailing list. We encourage
feedback from the community on the cleanup process. Public comment
periods are held at key points throughout the cleanup process.
Learn more about vapor intrusion.
This page created January 11, 2017