We are cleaning up lead and arsenic contamination left behind by the Everett Smelter, in residential and industrial areas of Northeast Everett. We are also encouraging property owners and residents near the former smelter to enroll in our free soil sampling program to see if they qualify for soil replacement.
Asarco operated the Everett Smelter from 1894–1912, but contamination wasn't discovered until 1990. Smelter operations left high levels of arsenic and lead on the former smelter property. Contaminated particles from the smokestacks settled over a 1.1 square mile area.
We've completed cleanup work on more than half of the roughly 700 homes in the uplands area and at American Legion Memorial Park. We've sampled for contamination at all the properties that requested it. Read more details about cleanup progress.
From 1999–2007, we cleaned up the most highly-contaminated areas, including the former smelter property. In 2009, we received funding through a bankruptcy settlement with Asarco to continue cleanup work. From 2009–2019, we spent most of the settlement funds on residential cleanups in the uplands area and on developing a cleanup plan for the lowlands area.
In 2019, we received funds from the Legislature to continue cleanup.
Work progress in 2023
As of March 2023, soil cleanup construction for the 2019 cleanup group is now complete. All cleanup plans and designs are now finalized for the 2020 cleanup group. Construction will begin for this group in the coming months. We will continue to draft cleanup plans for the 2022 cleanup group throughout the first half of this year.
We will continue to work with the City of Everett to improve the existing stormwater drainage system in northeastern Everett by repairing cracks in this system of pipes. These repairs will help decrease contamination from the smelter area from reaching the Snohomish River.
Learn more in the March 2023 community-wide update.
- Cleanup construction began on 19 properties (2019 cleanup group).
- We finalized cleanup plans for the 38 properties in the 2020 cleanup group.
- First home visits began for the 32 properties in the new 2022 cleanup group.
- Six previously unresponsive properties had soil sampling conducted.
- We began working with the City of Everett on improvements to the existing stormwater drainage system in northeastern Everett.
In April 2021, the governor lifted the hiring and contracting freeze put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing Everett smelter cleanup work to move forward. We were also able to hire an engineer and environmental specialist to complete the project team.
- We conducted soil sampling on 26 previously unresponsive properties.
- Engineering design plans were finalized for the 2019 cleanup group.
- We held first and second home visits to finalize the cleanup plans for the 38 properties in the 2020 cleanup group.
Due to COVID-19 and a directive from Gov. Jay Inslee, all contracted work on the Everett Smelter Project stopped in May 2020. This directive was issued because of poor state budget projections due to the pandemic. We were unable to hire contractors to do the soil sampling and soil removal planned for later in 2020.
In the fall, we were able to do field work again, and were able to do work on the project that did not require a contractor.
Ecology and community stakeholders secured new funding to continue contamination cleanup in north Everett.
- Sampling continued as new properties signed-up for the free soil sampling program.
- We completed construction on 11 properties in the Delta neighborhood and began planning for the cleanup of Wiggums Hollow Park and Viola Oursler Overlook.
- Work began with the 2019 residential cleanup group.
- We completed construction at the intersection of East Marine View Dr and SR-529. This construction removed highly contaminated soil under State Route 529 ramps remaining from the original smelter. The contaminated soil was polluting the Snohomish River.
- We finished soil sampling on all the properties that had requested it.
- Soil removal construction began on 11 properties in the Delta neighborhood.
- We postponed cleanup of the A1 area in the lowlands and highly contaminated soil under State Route 529 ramps until 2018.
- A new groundwater study began for the B2 area of the lowlands. It was used to design the cleanup plan for this area.
- We completed soil sampling on 45 individual properties, Pine Street Mobile Home Park, Everett Housing Authority’s 12 Pines neighborhood, and the Baker Heights neighborhood.
- The12 Pines neighborhood did not need cleanup.
- Most of the Baker Heights neighborhood did not need cleanup.
- Soil removal began on 11 properties in the Delta neighborhood.
- We completed soil removal on 22 properties north of Broadway St.
- After public review and comment, we finalized the Lowlands Cleanup Action Plan and related documents. Technical reports and public involvement materials are available in our online document repository.
- We completed the soil removal and landscape restoration project at American Legion Memorial Park.
- After public review and comment, we finalized the Supplemental Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study reports for the lowlands area. Technical reports and public involvement materials are available in our online document repository.