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Current events

In the summer of 2016, we finished a legal agreement requiring the University of Washington Tacoma (UW Tacoma) to investigate contamination, evaluate cleanup alternatives, and make a cleanup plan.

The investigation began by drilling groundwater wells to find the edges of the area with contaminated groundwater, called a plume.

Groundwater well drilling and the first round of testing was finished in early 2017.

During summer 2016, we made a formal legal agreement, called an agreed order, with UW Tacoma to start the cleanup process. Once that agreement was final, UW Tacoma drilled a series of wells to find the edges of groundwater contamination.

Testing air quality at UW Bookstore and Federal Courthouse buildings

In basement and ground floor areas of some buildings, we want to be sure groundwater contamination is not affecting air quality in places people visit and work.

We tested indoor air quality in the UW Bookstore building (GWP and BSG buildings) during summer, 2016. Test results showed that visitors and workers in those areas are not at risk of negative impacts from air quality.

We are currently planning further indoor air quality testing in the Federal Courthouse building on Pacific Avenue.

What you might see

This work will be mostly out of sight — in corridors and on ground and basement floors. Technicians will set up containers that collect air samples slowly over a long period from many hours to over a week.

We may use a drill to get through concrete slab-on-grade foundations, so we can test air under the building.

Why screening?

Historic activities in the area have contaminated the groundwater under some of the buildings on and near the UW Tacoma campus. The university is working under our direction to clean it up.

Throughout the cleanup process, we need to check regularly to make sure people who visit and work in the buildings in the cleanup area are not exposed to contaminating chemicals. A recent check indicated the need for follow up tests. The tests will look for contaminated air that could enter the buildings through a process called vapor intrusion.

How indoor air quality screening works

The screening processes test both indoor air and outdoor air, using specialized equipment. For indoor air testing, a metal container is left in place, and a valve lets air into the container at a set rate. The containers then go to a laboratory that can test the air samples.