Tacoma Smelter Plume: Dirt Alert! and Soil Cleanup Coming to Ruston and North Tacoma

Have you heard about Dirt Alert?

logo for Dirt Alert, showing magnifying glass highlighting the words
Dirt Alert is a program to protect you and your family from arsenic and lead in soil.  Many areas of the state have arsenic and lead from old orchard pesticides or from former smelters in Everett and Tacoma.

How were Ruston and north Tacoma impacted?

Ruston/North Tacoma Superfund Area, which shows the planned sequence of yard cleanups.

Ruston/North Tacoma Superfund Area, which shows the planned sequence of yard cleanups.

The former Asarco copper smelter in Tacoma emitted arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals. These metals settled on surface soils across 1,000 square miles. Ruston and north Tacoma are at the epicenter of the contamination.

In the 1980s, the area became part of a federal Superfund cleanup site. Over the last 20 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began cleaned up 2,436 properties Ruston and north Tacoma! More about the Superfund site.

What to expect if you live in the Ruston/North Tacoma Superfund area

In 2014, you will start hearing more from the Dirt Alert program at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (Health Department). 

See our news release about what's coming up!

Dirt Alert provides the same services as the old Asarco Information Center in Ruston. Staff can help you look up your soil sampling and cleanup records online and answer health questions.

The new "Yard Program: will replace contaminated soils at no or low cost.

bobcat machine in a backyard

Digging up contaminated soil to clean up a backyard play area.

Many homes in the Ruston and Tacoma area and on Vashon-Maury Island may qualify for the Yard Program. Search your address on our interactive map to find out what services you qualify for and who to contact for more information.