Mobile site updated
The mobile site has been updated with a better menu system on the top of each page. Some pages include a topic button for additional pages connected to the content on the page.
Is it safe to eat the clams?
During the Spring months, clam season starts in the Puget Sound Area.
There maybe a few places around the sound where shellfish are safe to eat, but for most of the South Puget Sound area, the pollution from Asarco still exists in beaches in the area.
If you are digging for clams at Saltwater State Park, there has been recent closures to the park from spills from the nearby sewage treatment. Clams harvested from the beach, at the park, should never be eaten.
The Dirty Playgrounds and the Dirty Secrets
If you lived or worked in the city limits of Tacoma or Fife as well as Vashon Island, the daily plumes from ASARCO were in the air.
As the result of the wind and the size of the smokestack, these plumes reached the other side of the Puget Sound and affected the following areas:
Highline School District
North Hill Elementary
Olympic (Jr High or Elementary)
Normandy Park Elementary
Federal Way School District
If you attended Parkside or Woodmont Elementary School (up until 1980)
For those that attended these two elementary schools in the city of Des Moines, where you lived, played, or waited for the school bus may have been near a hazardous materials storage area where the exposure of PCBs may have existed.
Since the 1980's, the EPA and various agencies worked on cleaning up some of the concerns in the area regarding PCB's from storage sites along the highway, but cleaning up the soil in the area only applied to a few sites along the highway, surrounded by a landfill that was taking care of Seattle's garbage needs on a daily basis.
Neighborhood Definitions for the Project
Some of the area focused on this website is incorporated into the city of Kent since the city boundaries between the Kent/Des Moines area are not based on a straight line along Pacific Highway South (some of these decisions were based on individual business and neighborhood approval leading to confusion at times).
This website will classify Midway as being in the city of Kent while Salt Air will be classified as the city of Des Moines.
While the Salt Air neighborhood does have neighborhoods and businesses incorporated into the city of Kent, none of the area is considered to be in use for schools, parks, and watershed purposes. These uses are only managed in the area that is within the city of Des Moines.
Woodmont and Redondo will be classified as being in the city of Des Moines since most of the community is within it's city limits.
Parkside Elementary today after topsoil was removed from the playground (to construct the current school) containing up to 40 ppm of arsenic and 80 ppm of lead (photo source: Tim Babcock)
Puget Sound view from Redondo overlooking Vashon Island/Murray Island, and Tacoma (source: Tim Babcock)
The Federal Way, West Kent, and Des Moines Area Today
Since 2009, The Washington State Department of Ecology presented the impact that a 325 ft smokestack in Ruston did while it was in operation for 100 years and it's emissions were being absorbed into everyone that was outdoors with levels of arsenic and lead that, depending on where you were at the time, may be or may not be considered acceptable for today's EPA standards.
Many property owners still have the same levels in their ground that won't decay anytime soon and many weren't aware when purchasing their property what happened in the past as well when most of the areas (outside of the city limits of Tacoma) were considered more rural than urban with lower population levels.
Living and going to school in the flight path of Sea Tac Airport
Schools in the Highline and Federal Way school districts that are in the flight path of what is now the ninth busiest airport in the United States, have been exposed to emissions from commercial jet craft fuel, as well as aluminum and elements from chemicals used to preserve the exterior of the aircraft, known to release from the aircraft from pressurizing and depressurizing planes.
Samples have been found in tree sample tests conducted by Flight Path Kids. These elements can cause a great deal of health problems from everything to birth defects as well as Cancer.
The Complicated Mess
As a result of these situations, for those that live (or have lived) South of Sea Tac Airport, the places where you lived, played, and went to school are effected by toxic sources that can't be pinpointed to one source.
This website is going to focus on what happened in the past before the topsoil was removed from the playgrounds and the schools were rebuilt with some attention to current and previous hazardous material sites along Pacific Highway South as the area is being redeveloped for rapid transit needs.
Sea Tac Downwinders is an environmental anthropology study to find out what has happened to those that have lived, worked, played, and went to school in the Des Moines/Federal Way area during the time ASARCO was operational, with the focus from 1945-1985 as well as study the impacts from hazardous material sites there were kept hidden from the public.
Please visit the Facebook page:
For those that are interested in what is going on with the Sea Tac Runway research, please search the following Facebook page:
Flight Page Kids
It is closed and is available by invitation.
Parkside Elementary field today with the original topsoil removed (photo source: Tim Babcock)