Yard Program updates

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COVID-related delays

Due to COVID the Yard Program is experiencing some restrictions to staff time, as well as our ability to go out in the field. There are many unknowns for us, but we are committed to moving construction forward to the best of our ability. We will continue to evaluate how to best balance health and safety, while keeping the Yard Program contractors out in the field working.

In June 2020 we started construction on a group of 29 properties. Soil replacement work on a smaller group of 9 properties is almost complete. Work started on the smaller group in May.

Since 2013, we've found 1,191 properties (yards) that qualify for soil replacement. To date, we have replaced soil in 290 yards within the Yard Program service area (service area).

In 2020 we plan on working on 58 yards in Tacoma (blue dots).

Contractors remove soil at a yard in North Tacoma.

Current progress: 2020 construction groups

In early June we started construction on a group of 29 properties. This construction group is in Area A and consists of 29 yards. This is the Yard Program’s first large construction group outside of the study area.

Most of the yards in this group are located on N Whitman, between N 45th Street and N 37th Street. The neighborhood will see increased traffic from construction vehicles. This will occur June 2020–Feb. 2021. If you live in the neighborhood, you may have received a Yard Program Construction Notice in the mail.

We are taking a cautious approach to returning to our construction work in the field. Most Ecology staff are still working from home. As of June 2020, Ecology’s offices are closed to the public, but we remain working. With the help of contractors, we are able to continue our Yard Program construction work.

The contractors must follow the state’s coronavirus (COVID-19) job site requirements. Workers must maintain a six-foot distance from others, and wear masks while working. The state requires that contractors have a COVID-19 plan on file with Ecology. The plan outlines the safety measures that they will take. It outlines how they will keep their workers — and those that they are working around — safe and healthy.

If you have concerns about our contractors or any Yard Program construction work, let us know by calling our project line at 360-407-7688 (press 2 to reach the Tacoma Smelter Plume).               

In January we started work on six yards and three childcares. These yards are part of a small group that's funded by the EPA. Work on this group of properties is almost complete.

We have one last group of 25 properties that we hoped to put out to bid and begin work on this year. We are committed to moving construction forward to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, at this time, we are unsure if we will be able to do this. 

If you are wondering when your property will receive soil replacement, call our project line at 360-407-7688 (press 2 to reach the Tacoma Smelter Plume). Staff will return your call within one business day.      

Soil Replacement Sequence update

Soil replacement prioritization was set in the Final Program Design and Implementation Plan. In 2016, we came out with a Soil Replacement Sequence for outside the study area. The sequence ranked our work and conveyed which areas we would address first.

In 2017, we finished our large soil sampling effort. We offered soil sampling to everyone within the Yard Program service area. We did not offer soil sampling to yards within the EPA study area, as soil sampling for these yards was done under the EPA’s superfund program.

Our large outreach efforts offering soil sampling are complete. We continue to offer soil sampling to new homeowners.

Since the sequence was updated in 2016 we sampled 1,500 more yards. We found an additional 120 yards that qualify for soil replacement. 

In 2020, we will be evaluating the data and updating our soil replacement sequence. This sequence is based on the number of yards that qualify, with soil contamination over 100 parts per million (ppm) for arsenic. In our evaluation of the data we look at different factors. These include the areas of the service area with the highest contamination levels. We also will look at how close groups of yards are to other yards, and the total number of yards in a group. We will consider other factors like access to community services, income inequities, and population demographics.

Soil sampling and soil replacement paperwork

Ecology’s Dirt Alert map puts information and data in one place. Where available, the map visually displays soil sampling data. It also provides useful links to Ecology and the Health Department’s websites and contact information.

If you would like to find out if your yard already has soil sampling or soil replacement information, enter your address in the address search. Click on "More information" in the pop-up box in the bottom, left-hand corner of the screen to find property-specific soil sampling and soil replacement information.    

Healthy Actions

Healthy Actions are for everyone. They're simple practices you can do to reduce your and your family’s exposure to contaminated soil.

Sign up for free soil sampling

See our Soil Sampling webpage for more information. 


If you have questions, please call the Tacoma Smelter Plume line at 360-407-7688, press 2 for the Tacoma Smelter Plume.