Group raises concerns over Superfund site cleanup plan | Tacoma Weekly
The Occidental site, at 605 Alexander Ave., was listed on the federal registry of Superfund sites in the 1980s and is the last remaining cleanup site on the Tideflats. The plant, which first operated by Hooker Chemical Corp. before being sold to Occidental Corp. in 1968, formulated ammonia, chlorine, bleaches and industrial petrochemicals for 90 years. It closed in 2002 but left two distinct plumes of heavy metals and volatile chemicals that span an area the size of five CenturyLink fields and run deeper into the waterway’s soil than the Tacoma Dome is tall.
About a million pounds of chemical waste from the plant is estimated to be in the soil of the former plant’s 23-acre site and in the sediment of the Hylebos. The pollutants include an alphabet soup of chemicals that range from chlorinated volatile organic compounds, to sodium hydroxide, heavy metals, poly-chlorinated biphenyls and dioxins that were byproducts of the manufacturing process for chemicals used at pulp mills, boat builders, metal fabricators and dry cleaners.
“In some places, the pH is as high as 14, which is stronger than drain cleaner and enough to dissolve the rock into jelly,” CHB’s fact sheet on the cleanup states.
The pollution is not only linked to cancer and other ailments in people, but the chemicals threaten the health and habitat of the Chinook runs, the seals and waterfowl that call the waterway home.