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U.S. EPA Seeks Comment on New Commencement Bay Sediment Cleanup Plan

Release Date: 11/29/1999
Contact Information: Jeanne O'Dell and Allison Hiltner
(206) 553-6919 ans (206) 553-2140

November 29, 1999 - - - - - - - - - - 99-58

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on a proposal to clean up 90% of the contaminated sediments remaining in the industrial tideflats area in Tacoma’s Commencement Bay. A public meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 8, from 7 - 9 pm, at the World Trade Center, 3600 Port of Tacoma Road, Tacoma, WA..

The proposal includes dredging 1.7 to 2 million cubic yards of contaminated sediments from Thea Foss, Wheeler Osgood and Hylebos Waterways, and disposal in three disposal sites in the Commencement Bay area. The cost of the cleanup is estimated to be approximately $75 million. The sediment cleanup project is part of the Commencement Bay Nearshore/Tideflats Superfund cleanup led by EPA and the Washington Department of Ecology.

Since the late 1800's a multitude of industrial uses, including shipbuilding, oil refining and chemical manufacture and storage have caused widespread hazardous waste contamination of the soil and nearshore sediments. Many of the contaminants have impacted marine life and disrupted the ecological food chain of the area. The goal of the cleanup is to bring back a healthy bay and marine ecosystem. In 1989, EPA determined that six of the eight Commencement Bay waterways would require cleanup under Superfund. St. Paul and Sitcum waterways have been cleaned up, three are addressed in this proposal, and EPA will propose a cleanup plan for the remaining waterway, Middle Waterway, in 2000.

A full description of the proposed cleanup plan and bay-wide sediment disposal can be found in an EPA document entitled “ Draft Explanation of Significant Differences.” This document is available for review at the Tacoma Main Public Library (Northwest Room, 1102 Tacoma Avenue South), by appointment at the office of Citizens for a Healthy Bay (917 Pacific Avenue, Suite 406, 253-383-2429) or at the EPA Records Center EPA in Seattle(7th floor, 1200 Sixth Avenue.)
It may also be viewed via the internet at:
Commencement Bay Habitat Assessment Workshop

In an independent but related event, Charles Simenstad, a researcher from the University of Washington School of Fisheries, will present a bay-wide habitat assessment on Wednesday evening, December 1. The workshop will discuss the progress and advances in the clean up, focusing on restoring marine life and salmon recovery. Data from the report is being used to help guide disposal site selection and habitat enhancement projects in the Bay. A question & answer session will follow the presentation. The workshop will take place from
7 - 9 pm, at the World Trade Center, 3600 Port of Tacoma Road.