Delta neighbors ask state to continue arsenic clean ups
Neighbors reach to legislators because Ecology’s localized yard clean up work is stalled without a cash influx
EVERETT — The Delta Neighborhood Association last month sent a letter to state and federal elected officials calling on them to increase funding for the state Department of Ecology to aid arsenic and lead cleanups in the neighborhood.
The cleanups have largely stopped because funding ran dry.
Since 1999, Ecology has cleaned up more than half of the contaminated areas in the north Everett neighborhood but Mary Fosse, chair
of the Delta Neighborhood Association, said a lack of “consistent funding that (Ecology) can anticipate” caused cleanup efforts to stall.
According to the letter, the Delta Neighborhood has more than 300 properties left to be decontaminated and some neighbors have waited 28 years for aid after lingering soil contamination was discovered in 1990. Ecology’s website says its remaining funding for the spring will be focused on clean ups for 11 homes.
“There’s so much that has to be done,” said Fosse. “We have some really frustrated neighbors.”
The neighborhood asked for $2 million per year over the next 10 years for the project.
The contamination is the fallout legacy from a metal smelter that operated in north Everett from 1894 to 1912 run by a company that Asarco later bought. Ecology received close to $190 million for projects statewide in an Asarco bankruptcy settlement in 2009, and dedicated $44 million to the Everett project.
Fosse said she saw the lack of funding’s impact when the neighborhood tried to rent Wiggums Hollow Park for its annual National Night Out this past August.
“It was brought up that (the park) might not be available due to some cleaning processes,” she said. “It turns out they were supposed to be cleaning up Wiggums Park but because of budgetary issues and standoffs at the state level, (the cleaning was postponed) because Ecology did not get their money in time to clean up the park.”
The letter was sent to Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, state Reps. Mike Sells and June Robinson and state Sen. John McCoy. As of press time, Fosse said Larsen’s office was the only one to respond to the association.
“It’s time for someone higher up to make the changes that need to be made and take care of our neighbors,” Fosse said. “There are places that are still waiting to be tested. If it was in our water or in our pipes, they would be on it in a second with a remedy. We’ll take whoever will help us.”
Fosse met with Larsen’s Snohomish County community liaison Lindsey Webb and district director Adam LeMieux.
“They really wanted to hear about what the concerns of the Delta Neighborhood Association were,” Fosse said. She added Larsen’s office would “research possible alternative sources of funding” for Ecology.
Crsytal Florez, McCoy’s legislative assistant, said
his office “will be following up with the Department of Ecology to determine how to best move forward.”
Robinson’s and Sells’ offices did not respond to the Tribune’s requests for comment by press time.
Fosse said she anticipates more of the addressed officials to respond to the neighborhood.
“I assume that after they do some research into talking to (Ecology) that they will reach out to us,” she said. “We understand that these things do take time.”
She added if the association fails to hear from local politicians, she “will be following up with them.”
Fosse said she hasn’t heard any cases of immediate health risks, but “obviously lead is a huge concern and so is arsenic.”
Ecology has a hotline available for residents inside the zone or otherwise to request testing for soil contamination: 425-446-1024.
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