Tacoma

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The costly toxic legacy of the industrial age

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The largest environmental bankruptcy settlement in U.S. history will pump more than $800 million into the Pacific Northwest to cleanup up tons of lead and arsenic wastes near Everett, Tacaoma and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

"With this settlement we are in a much stronger position to assure that people's children and grandchildren have a cleaner place to play and grow up," said Dan Opalski, deputy administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Northwest.

In the Puget Sound region, the waste came from smelters near Tacoma and Everett operated for more than 100 years by Asarco and its predecessors, and financed by industrialists including the Rockefellers and Guggenheims, extracting lead, arsenic, zinc and copper from sites around the country. The smelters spewed pollution into the air, that deposited contaminated soil around homes, schools, playgrounds and parks in the region.

Everett will receive nearly $45 million in clean up funds, which will go towards evaluating and cleaning up about 600 homes in the north part of the city, the Everett Herald reports.

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Bad day to be green in Tacoma - dirty air, polluting sailing ships

rita_hibbardweb8Bummer day to be green in Tacoma.

Not only is the air in the somewhat unfragrant city to the south of Seattle among the dirtiest in the country, but the state ship is now officially too dirty to enter California waters.

Bummer.

Bottom line on the Bad Air Deal: the city has to come up with a plan to clean up its air by 2014, the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Tacoma is the only city in the state to make the list of the dirtiest 31.  The pollution designation is for ultra fine particles found in smoke and haze -  what you and I call smog.

In anticipation of the listing, several elements of a pollution control plan have been instituted in Tacoma. They include measures taken by the Port of Tacoma to reduce diesel exhaust, efforts by the city and Pierce County to move to less polluting vehicles, and programs intended to motivate consumers to weatherize their homes.

Then there's that ship. It looks beautiful, the Lady Washington, one of the tall ships used in the Disney film "Pirates of the Caribbean." The ship normally spends its winters in California waters, where it welcomes more than 70,000 visitors, including 7,000 school kids. Not this winter. The Lady's 60-year-old diesel engine has been deemed unwelcome in the green state of California. That's a big hit in the revenue column.

Operators are working to raise the $100,000 needed to replace the aging engine with a less-polluting variety.

 -- Rita Hibbard