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Toxics Cleanup Program


Yard Sampling and Cleanup Program

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The most common cleanup method is digging up contaminated soil and taking it to a landfill

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After cleanup, Ecology can restore the original yard or provide more environmentally-friendly landscaping choices.

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Tacoma Smelter Plume Residential Yard Sampling and Cleanup Program (Yard Program)

Ecology is using a large part of a $94 million settlement from Asarco to sample and clean up residential yards.  The Residential Yard Sampling and Cleanup Program (Yard Program) will cover the most contaminated areas of the Tacoma Smelter Plume.  The map to the right shows our program service area. 

Program Design Process


From March 14 – April 29, 2013, we held a comment period on the design for the Yard Program. We will respond to comments in a Responsiveness Summary and publish a final program design in June of 2013. For more information, please visit the comment period webpage.

We will be updating this page with more information.  Please also see our Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet for more about how the Yard Program will work.  


Work will start with a small group of Tacoma homes in 2013.


We are starting cleanup at homes inside the Asarco Superfund site, which did not qualify for cleanup by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  This is a good place to start the cleanup program because it addresses some of the highest risks to human health.  Plus, we already have soil sampling data from EPA, which means we can start working with some homeowners to plan for cleanup.


How can I join this program?

We plan to sample thousands of properties, working neighborhood by neighborhood.  We will contact you when we reach your neighborhood. You can also sign up now by filling out a sampling access form. This is a voluntary program but once you opt out, you cannot join later.  In order to complete the work on schedule, we need your cooperation when we are in your area.

We will be expanding this website soon to include more details about the program, including our schedule.  To join our mailing list for updates, please contact Hannah Aoyagi at Hannah.Aoyagi@ecy.wa.gov or (360) 407-6790.


We plan to only clean up yards with over 100 parts per million (ppm) arsenic.


We are focusing our limited resources on the worst contamination first. We expect it will take 10 years just to find and clean up the yards with over 100 ppm arsenic! For more information about this action level, please see our fact sheet.


Many yards will have arsenic under 100 ppm but over the state cleanup level of 20 ppm.


Ecology and local health departments will educate homeowners about reducing exposure to contaminated soils.  Ecology does not recommend removing soils from your own yard, unless it is part of a landscaping or building project.  Instead, fix bare patches in your lawn and cover bare soils with a layer of clean soil, mulch, bark, or other landscaping materials.  We also recommend growing vegetables in raised beds.  For more information, read our blog post about gardening.