Yard Program updates

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) construction update

May 7, 2020 – In March we delayed all construction and planning work due to potential health risks presented by the coronavirus. This month we are moving ahead with construction work on a small group of properties that was in active construction when the delay was put in place. The delay on all other construction and planning work is extended through June.

There is much uncertainty around the current situation presented by COVID-19. We’re committed to keeping the construction moving forward while keeping the health of the public, contractors, and Ecology staff a priority. We will continue to evaluate how to move forward with our soil replacement construction and planning work as we receive new information.

Thank you for your understanding. We want everyone to stay safe and healthy.

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).

An Ecology banner hangs in front of a yard.

Current progress: 2020 construction groups

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. On March 25, 2020 we delayed work on these properties. We plan to restart construction on this group of properties in mid-May. The contractor must follow the state's COVID-19 job site requirements. Workers are required to maintain a six-foot distance from others and wear personal protective equipment while working.

The start of work on the next construction group is delayed until June 17, 2020. This construction group is in Area A and consists of 29 yards. Soil replacement has not started on any of the properties in this group.

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.