Innovative Tacoma Smelter Plume Recovery Plan


Vashon Island church camp operators turned to Farallon for help when environmental concerns closed its doors.

The 40-acre forested property seemed ideal for a family campground, but its location in the Tacoma Smelter Plume made the land undesirable for children and families.  Because the arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals in soil in the region from airborne deposition is especially harmful to children, King County shut down the church camp.  The new owners of the property needed expert help to create a safe haven for families in an area blanketed with soil contamination.

Farallon completed a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study and subsequently prepared a Cleanup Action Plan that combined innovative soil mixing techniques; soil capping; landscape design using fencing, buildings, and dense vegetation to keep visitors on roads and trails; and removal of highly contaminated soil to an engineered containment cell to be incorporated into natural site topography.  These measures coupled with confirmation monitoring of cleanup method effectiveness were designed to transform an otherwise toxic landscape into a welcoming church camp and retreat facility. 

Farallon’s technical support for the project also included regulatory negotiations with King County and the Washington State Department of Ecology, and participation in public meetings.  These actions resulted in approval of the cleanup action, and acquisition of a permit allowing cleanup concurrent with planned camp improvements.

“The closing of the camp due to historical fallout of arsenic and lead on what ordinarily would be pristine forested land was heartbreaking news to our client, who had grand visions for the donated property.  Farallon used its expertise to find a solution that would allow families and children to feel safe, and also exceed regulatory requirements.”