image:filtered light in the forest

Toxics Cleanup Program

UW Tacoma site
Current events

Groundwater well drilling and the first round of testing will be done by the new year!

During summer 2016, we made a formal legal agreement, called an agreed order, with the University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) to start the long cleanup process. Once that agreement was final, UWT drilled a series of wells outside of the known extent of the site, in an effort to find the edges of groundwater contamination.

The first round of testing will be complete shortly after the new year. We expect to have the test results within a few months from that date.

In basement and ground floor areas of some non-residential buildings on the UW Tacoma campus, we tested indoor air to be sure groundwater contamination is not affecting air quality in places people visit and work. The test results showed that air quality does not pose a risk to visitors and workers in those buildings.


Testing air quality at UW Bookstore and Federal Courthouse buildings

People at the UWT Bookstore, Starbucks, or the U.S. District Court on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma may notice some activity as we work on site to take air quality tests.  

What you might see

This work will be mostly out of sight - in corridors and on ground and basement floors. Technicians will set up containers that collect air samples slowly over a long period from many hours to over a week.

We may use a drill to get through concrete slab-on-grade foundations, so we can test air under the building.

Why screening?

Historic activities in the area have contaminated the groundwater under some of the buildings on and near the UWT campus. UWT is working under the direction of Ecology to clean it up.

Throughout the cleanup process, we need to check up regularly to make sure people who visit and work in the buildings in the cleanup area are not exposed to the contaminating chemicals. A recent checkup indicated the need for follow up tests. The tests will look for contaminated air that could enter the buildings through a process called vapor intrusion.

How it works

The screening processes test both indoor air and outdoor air, using a specialized vacuum canister. The container is left in place, and a valve lets air into the container at a set rate. The containers then go to a laboratory that can test the air samples.

Learn more about the background and cleanup at the UW Tacoma site. 

Acronyms used by the Toxics Cleanup Program
Cleanup process: major steps & definitions

This page created January 11, 2017