Commencement Bay-South Tacoma Channel | Region 10 | US EPA

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Commencement Bay-South Tacoma Channel

Related Information


  • Sean Blocker, Project Manager (Tacoma Landfill and South Tacoma Field), 206-553-4166
  • Howard Orlean, Project Manager (Well 12A), 206-553-2851
  • Kay Morrison, Community Involvement Coordinator, 206-553-8321

The Commencement Bay - South Tacoma Channel Superfund site covers 2 square miles in Tacoma, Washington. It was added to EPA's National Priorities List of polluted sites in 1983. The site includes three Project Areas being managed as distinct sites:

  • Tacoma Municipal Landfill
  • South Tacoma Field
  • Well 12A
Site History

South Tacoma Field: The South Tacoma Field comprises 260 acres of land at the edge of an industrial area in Tacoma, Washington. Historically, the site was used by Burlington Northern Railroad for rail car manufacturing, repair and maintenance from 1892 to 1974. At that same time, iron and brass foundries operated on-site and produced various rail car parts. The swamp area of the site was used as a dump for foundry, construction and domestic wastes. In the north end, Tacoma City Light has operated since 1953 and previously stored and maintained transformers. Additionally, Tacoma Public Works has discharged city stormwater from two outfall locations on the west side of the site since 1950.

Tacoma Landfill: The Tacoma Landfill covers approximately 210 acres and is operated by the City of Tacoma. In 1960, the landfill began accepting municipal, industrial, construction, demolition, and bulk wastes. About 4 million tons of refuse have been deposited at the landfill, including wastes received in the 1960s and 1970s that have since been designated as hazardous substances. The landfill is surrounded by residential development and open land, with some commercial and industrial development. Landfill gas contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including methylene chloride and toluene. Groundwater is contaminated with VOCs and heavy metals. Private residential wells and a municipal wellfield are located downgradient of the landfill.

Well 12A: Well 12A is one of 13 wells used by the city of Tacoma to meet peak summer and emergency water demands. The well was taken out of operation when it was found to be contaminated, but has been operating since July 1983 with five air-stripping systems. Investigations by EPA found the source of contamination to be centered on properties owned by the Burlington Northern Railroad and the Time Oil Company. A waste oil and solvent recycler had previously operated on the properties from approximately the 1920s until the 1960s. A groundwater extraction and treatment system was installed in November 1988, and five additional systems were installed in August 1993.

Fact Sheets
Where to Review Site Documents

You can review copies of all technical documents, fact sheets, and other documents related to the site at the following locations:

Community Advisory Group

The Citizens for a Healthy Bay Exit EPA disclaimer is EPA's designated community advisory group for the Commencement Bay Superfund site. Contact 253-383-2429 for more information.

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