image:filtered light in the forest

Toxics Cleanup Program


Everett Smelter Cleanup

Site History

Historic photo of the Everett Smelter FlueThe Everett Smelter, built by Puget Sound Reduction Company, operated from 1894 to 1912. ASARCO Incorporated (Asarco) purchased the property in 1903 and operated the smelter until 1912 when it was demolished. The property was sold in various parcels, with the last parcel owned by Asarco being sold in 1936. Homes were built on many of the parcels. The highway interchange between East Marine View Drive and State Route 529 was built across the old smelter site in the 1950s.

The site includes the industrial area along the Snohomish River.  The site is divided into the Uplands Area and the Lowlands Area.  The Uplands Area is in residential, light commercial, and recreational use.  The Lowlands Area is used for industrial activities.

Historic smelter photoEcology discovered the contamination in 1990. A local company notified Ecology that they had found elevated concentrations of arsenic and lead in the soil and groundwater during an environmental assessment of their property. Ecology conducted additional investigations of the surrounding area. The soil at the Everett Smelter Site was found to be contaminated with arsenic, lead, cadmium and other metals. Arsenic and lead were present in some areas above state cleanup standards.

Ecology began working with Asarco in 1990 to investigate and clean up the site.  A Cleanup Action Plan for the Uplands Area was finalized in 1999 after extensive discussion with the Everett community.

Asarco declared bankruptcy in 2005.  Ecology filed a claim in the bankruptcy court for Asarco‚Äôs environmental liability for the Everett Smelter site and other sites in Washington state.

Ecology, working with the Everett Housing Authority, has cleaned up the part of the site with the highest levels of contamination.  Cleanup stopped in 2007, however, due to lack of funding.

In December 2009, Ecology received a bankruptcy settlement of $188 million from Grupo Mexico, a large Mexican mining company that brought Asarco out of bankruptcy.  $44 million of this settlement was set aside for the Everett Smelter site cleanup.  $10 million of this was used to repay past costs on the site. 

Ecology developed a multi-year plan to clean up properties within the Everett Smelter site.  Ecology will clean up the Uplands Area  by removing contaminated soil that is accessible to people (not under pavement or buildings).  Cleanup involves removing contaminated soil from residential yards, replacing it with clean soil, and restoring the landscaping.   Visit the Uplands Cleanup page for more information. The Lowlands area of the site is being cleaned up on a separate schedule.  Visit the Lowlands Cleanup page for more information.

Historic Smelter Location

Map of smelter footprint with historic plant building locations