Arsenic And Lead

Asarco Smelter Ruston, WA

Carcinogens At The Glacier Northwest Site

  • Arsenic, cadmium, lead and other dangerous toxins have saturated the top layers of the soil at the Glacier Northwest mining site.
  • This contamination is the legacy of nearly a century of downwind fallout from the ASARCO copper smelter in Ruston, a neighborhood in North Tacoma.
  • Arsenic levels at the Glacier Northwest site have been reported at 460 ppm which is 20 times the levels allowed under State and Federal toxics laws.
  • Arsenic is recognized as a carcinogen and exposure to the chemical elevates the risk for bladder, lung and skin cancer, and may cause kidney and liver cancer. Studies have also found that arsenic can harm the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as heart and blood vessels, and causes serious skin problems. It may also cause birth defects and reproductive problems.
  • Because of the significant human health risks, the Asarco property and portions of the smelter fallout plume were listed as a Superfund cleanup site by the EPA.
  • The Consent decree related to this EPA enforcement gave the State Department of Ecology the responsibility for the development of an action plan and oversight for contaminant cleanup on Vashon and Maury Islands.
  • Ten years later, the Department has yet to perform the State mandated risk assessment of the Glacier site nor has even the most preliminary plans for cleanup been developed or reviewed by the department.
  • Glacier Northwest suggested in the 2000 King County EIS that a disposal site would be created on the property to house the toxic soils. However, both State and County code restricts landfills like this on the property due to the risk it would pose to the Island’s sole source aquifer.
  • This restriction means that any disturbed toxic soils will need to be removed from the island by either truck or barge. Barging would risk contaminated soils being carried into Puget Sound nearshore and trucking would mean thousand of trucks carrying toxic soils onto the ferries and onto public roadways.
  • No jurisdictional agency with the authority and expertise for toxics control and cleanup has given more than a cursory over the shoulder look at the arsenic issue at the Glacier Northwest site. There has been no agency investigation into the release of the arsenic into the air during excavation activities or investigation into the potential impact pathways caused by changes to the site. These changes may cause arsenic to enter the aquifer, the air, surface water and even Puget Sound.

This Mine Expansion Doesn’t Make any Sense

It Doesn’t Make Environmental Sense

It Doesn’t Make Economic Sense

It Doesn’t Make Sense For The People Of Washington State