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Toxics Cleanup Program

Everett Smelter Cleanup

Soil Sampling for Arsenic in the Everett Smelter Plume

Is my yard eligible for free Everett Smelter Cleanup soil testing?

Properties within the Everett Smelter Cleanup area are eligible for arsenic soil testing. This is a free and voluntary program from Ecology. See the frequently asked questions below for more information.

If you live within the cleanup site boundary, you may be able to get free soil sampling depending on availability of funding. To determine if you are within the boundary:

  1. Visit our interactive map of the Everett Smelter Plume.
  2. Search for your address.
  3. Click on the red diamond to determine whether you’re part of the cleanup.
  4. Look below the map for contact information and links.

Photo of man with long probe sampling soil.What does soil testing look like?

First, Ecology will contact you to get permission to enter your yard. Then we will collect multiple soil samples using a tool called an auger (see photo).  

The auger takes a sample that is two inches in diameter and two feet deep. The samples are tested on site to find out if arsenic is present above state cleanup levels, and a portion of those samples are also sent to a lab for confirmation.  Check out our video and flyer that shows the process.  

My yard is inside the cleanup site boundary and I want my soil tested. What should I do?

Ecology is sampling properties and cleaning up the site as funding is available. Our approach has been to work on properties closest to the former smelter first since they generally have higher levels of contamination. Our sampling and cleanup work continues to move further out from the former smelter site. Check out our cleanup progress.

If you would like to have your soil tested before Ecology is able to do so, you can choose to sample your property yourself. We recommend that you follow the Soil Sampling Guidance developed for the Tacoma Smelter Plume.

My yard is outside the cleanup site boundary and I want my soil tested. What should I do?

Ecology is not currently sampling properties outside the cleanup site boundary. If you would like to have your soil tested, you can choose to sample your property yourself. We recommend that you follow the Soil Sampling Guidance developed for the Tacoma Smelter Plume Site. If you have any questions, please contact us at (425) 446-1024.

My property was sampled and Ecology recommended cleanup but I haven't been contacted by anyone yet.  What's the next step?

Unfortunately, at this time, Ecology has no additional funds to move forward with residential cleanup.  If your property has been sampled, Ecology has you on our list of properties that need cleanup.

Since 2009, Ecology has spent almost all of the Asarco bankruptcy settlement funds sampling and cleaning up properties, and investigating the Lowlands area (check out our cleanup progress). More funding is needed to complete residential cleanups and sampling. We are pursuing additional funding but are not sure when it will be available.  

Ecology will keep you up-to-date about project status through the website and mailings.  Please contact the project hotline at (425) 446-1024 with questions.

What is the cleanup level for arsenic in the Everett Smelter Plume?

The cleanup level for arsenic on the Everett Smelter site is 20 ppm in the top 12 inches of soil. This is considered the “urban background” level for Washington soils.

Ecology calculates and sets cleanup levels based on risk of impacts and exposure, according to state law (WAC173-340  Model Toxics Control Act).

How much soil will you remove from my property?

Ecology will use your soil sampling results as a guide to determine how much soil will be removed from your property.  In 1999, Ecology developed a framework for soil removal decisions as part of the cleanup action plan. Extensive public input was used to develop this framework.

Ecology uses the guidelines in the table below to determine whether soil needs to be removed. A higher contamination threshold is used at greater depths, because it is less likely that people will come in contact with soil at greater depths.

Depth of Soil Average Arsenic Level Maximum Arsenic Level
(at one sample point)
0-12 inches 20 ppm 40 ppm
12-24 inches 60 ppm 150 ppm
24-36 inches* 150 ppm 500 ppm

*Currently Ecology isn’t sampling soil below 24 inches.

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Page last updated February 22, 2017