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State will clean contaminated soil at Lake Grove Park
The Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) will clean the soil at seven parks in Pierce and King County, including Federal Way's Lake Grove Park.
The soil cleanup is needed due to decades of contamination from the Asarco smelter located in Tacoma. For the DOE and cleanup coordinator John Zinza, the next few weeks present a brief window for the work to take place.
"We have a very tight timeline," Zinsa said. "Grass must be seeded by mid-October in order to survive the winter, and rain can make soil work more difficult."
According to the DOE, contamination in the parks like Lake Grove doesn't pose an immediate risk to residents, but the potential for long-term issues exists, especially with children who may be exposed to the contaminated soil.
Residents who live near these parks can expect to encounter construction, including noise and large trucks in the area. Lake Grove Park is located at 833 SW 308th St.
"Every single park cleanup project protects more children in South King and Pierce County from toxic chemicals," said State Rep. Dave Upthegrove of Des Moines, who was the main sponsor of the 2005 legislation that created the soil cleanup program. "This program is an investment in the health and safety of future generations."
Some of the work will focus on the cleaning up the soil around play areas in the seven local parks set to undergo the work.
The focus on areas where children play is especially important, given the inquisitive nature of children and their propensity to put things in their mouths when young.
"Children's developing bodies are more sensitive to the toxic effects of heavy metals. They play on the ground, and their hand-to-mouth activities put them at higher risk than adults," said Marian Abbett, the DOE's project manager for dealing with the effects of the Tacoma smelter.
The DOE advises residents to reduce exposure to any contaminated soils in the region. Among the activities DOE endorses are hand-washing, taking off shoes, using a doormat to keep dirt out of homes, regular vacuuming and damp-dusting, plus keeping toys clean.