Soil replacement for residential yards

We're working neighborhood-by-neighborhood to replace soil in qualifying residential yards in the Tacoma Smelter Plume area. We will contact you to discuss options when we reach your neighborhood.

For news on the Yard Program’s accomplishments and upcoming work, visit the Yard Program updates page.

Planning for soil replacement

We start the planning process a year before soil replacement takes place. Planning for cleanup takes several months and the contractor has the whole contract period to complete soil replacement. We qualify yards by reviewing soil sampling results and evaluating the property during our first visit.

Some properties or portions of yards might not qualify for soil replacement due to steep slopes, retaining walls, and other areas that are excluded from cleanup. We don't remove soil around trees or large plantings, rock walls, ponds, or under pavement or decks. To learn more, read our excluded areas handout.

When we're ready to start the planning process, we mail a letter to property owners inviting them to participate and attend a program orientation meeting.

First image is of a house and yard, second image shows excavation equipment working in the yard, third image shows a grassy lawn and tree in front of the house

Before, during, and after soil replacement.

The soil replacement process

Watch our three part video:

  1. Introduction
  2. What to expect during cleanup
  3. How to care for your new lawn 

Orientation materials

Pre-construction meeting

Tacoma presentation (June 6, 2018)
Vashon presentation (December 11, 2018)

Soil Replacement Orientation

Tacoma presentation (January 25 and February 1, 2017)

Plant and lawn care after soil replacement

To learn more about how to keep your lawn green naturally, watch the video series on Natural Lawn Care or read our handout on lawn care after soil replacement.

Soil left behind

During soil replacement we work hard to remove all soil contamination above the action level, however, some soil contamination may remain. Soil may be left behind at the base of trees and foundations, along fence lines or at the base of excavation. Read Areas Excluded from Soil Cleanup to learn more.

Soil replacement sequence

Our soil replacement sequence is based on the percentage of properties with arsenic over 100 parts per million, geographic proximity, and total number of properties in a group.

Soil replacement progress inside the study area

The study area is where the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversaw Asarco’s soil sampling and replacement work in the early 1990s and 2000s. This map shows Ecology’s soil replacement sequence inside the study area. There are five areas within the study area. Each area includes three to five different letter groups. You can find your letter group by entering your address into our Dirt Alert map and downloading documents found under “more information.”

The soil replacement sequence is based on the percentage of properties with the highest remaining soil contamination and properties that had no EPA soil replacement action.

For more information on the sequence, please see the Program Design and Implementation Plan (March 2013). You can also download a text description of the cleanup sequence.

We started replacing soil in the darkest colored areas, and are moving to the lighter areas. We are currently working in area 2 (areas A, B, and C). 

Area Sequence
within area
1 D, F, J, K, L
2 B, C, A
3 M, N, I
4 G, H
5 O, R, P, S, Q

Soil replacement progress outside the study area

This map shows our soil replacement sequence outside the study area. There are seven areas outside the study area. Each area includes one to four different letter groups. You can find your letter group by entering your address into our Dirt Alert map and downloading documents found under “more information.” You can also download a text description of the cleanup sequence.

The soil replacement sequence is based on the percentage of properties that qualify with arsenic over 100 parts per million (ppm), geographic proximity, and total number of properties in a group. 

We will start with the darkest shades of brown and move to the lighter shades over time. We plan to begin work in area A in 2019.

Area Sequence
within area
1 A
2 D
3 B, C
4 G
5 E, F, H
6 I, J, K, M
7 L, ZZ