Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First of four public meetings on Tacoma Smelter Plume cleanup slated for tonight

The state Department of Ecology has scheduled four public meetings over the next several weeks in order to gather public input on its cleanup plan for the Tacoma Smelter Plume.

The first meeting takes place tonight from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Point Defiance Elementary School cafeteria in Tacoma.

A former copper smelter in the Tacoma area spewed arsenic and lead into the air for nearly a century.  These emissions were deposited in soils throughout King, Pierce, Kitsap and Thurston Counties, creating an environmental and public health hazard.  Arsenic and lead both pose serious health risks to people, particularly children.

In 2005, state Rep. Dave Upthegrove sponsored legislation requiring playground soils in areas exposed to industrial pollution be tested for toxic contaminants like arsenic and lead, and that those contaminants be removed from the soil.  As a result of this measure, soil from many playgrounds and day cares in areas affected by the Tacoma Smelter Plume has been cleaned up and made safe again for children to play in.

The remaining public meetings are scheduled as follows:

Nov. 9, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., McMurry Middle School Cafeteria, Vashon Island

Nov. 16, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Curtis High School Cafeteria, University Place

Dec. 6, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Des Moines Activity Center, Des Moines

The DOE's draft cleanup plan can also be viewed online here, and public comments will be accepted by email and postal mail through December 20, 2011, at the address provided at the link.