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Toxic cleanup: State works to remove contaminated soil left behind from old Everett Smelter

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EVERETT — The old Asarco Smelter in Everett shut down in the early 1900s, but its effects on the environment continue.  Some neighborhoods are filled with soil contaminated by arsenic.

The Department of Ecology is leading the effort to try and get to every effected area and remove the soil from lawns.

Meg Bommarito is project manager for the Everett smelter clean up and says the levels of arsenic in some areas isn’t an immediate health risk.

“People have to ingest the soil in order to be exposed, it’s not readily absorbed through the skin,” Bommarito said.

If you live within the effected area, the Department of Ecology says you should wash your hands after handling the soil and don’t track dirt into your home.

For the past four years, the DOE has cleaned up more than a 100 lawns that includes removing the soil and replacing it with clean dirt.

The project is funded with $34 million collected from a settlement with Asarco.

The current project could wrap up by the end of the year.  DOE says it might need additional funds to continue with the effort.

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