Tacoma Smelter Plume: Model Remedies Guidance gets an update

Guidance covers formal and voluntary cleanup for projects involving soil movement

To encourage cleanup of soil contaminated by the former Asarco smelter in Tacoma, we've updated our Tacoma Smelter Plume Model Remedies Guidance. For almost 100 years, the Asarco Company operated a copper smelter in Tacoma. Air pollution from the smelter settled on the surface soil of more than 1,000 square miles of the Puget Sound basin. Arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals are still in the soil as a result of this pollution.

This guidance was created to encourage cleanup of Asarco contaminated soil during property development. It provides straightforward directions on soil sampling and cleanup of soil contaminated with arsenic and lead within the Tacoma Smelter Plume. In July, we launched a revised version of the guidance, replacing the older, 2012 version.

The guidance was written primarily for developers who build residential housing or commercial buildings. However, anyone who wants to sample and clean up their Asarco contaminated soil within the Tacoma Smelter Plume can use this guidance. The guidance streamlines the sampling and cleanup process and eliminates the need to develop separate sampling and cleanup plans. When developers use the remedies covered in this guidance to clean up their properties before building structures, Ecology is able to issue timely opinion letters stating that the cleanup meets state requirements.

Historical photo showing the 500+ foot smelter stack.

Former Asarco smelter stack.

In updating the guidance, we kept the same format, updated some information and links to resources, and added a new chapter. Some of the revisions answered and clarified frequently asked questions, such as calculating the minimum number of soil and duff samples needed. The new chapter describes sampling and remediation in natural areas, such as steep slopes, wetlands and their buffers.

Please, note that the publication number has changed from 12-09-086-A to 19-09-101.

If you have questions about the revised Tacoma Smelter Plume Model Remedies Guidance, contact our Technical Assistant, Eva Barber at 360-407-7094 or Eva.Barber@ecy.wa.gov.

Some internet web browsers store the address to the older version of the guidance in a cookie. If searching for the new guidance using Google or Google Chrome, you may need to clear the existing cookies and search again.

Download the new version of the guidance or visit our Tacoma Smelter Plume Technical Assistance page.

To find out if you are within the Tacoma Smelter Plume, visit Ecology’s Dirt Alert Map.