Making land useful again
For more than 40 years, the Port of Tacoma has actively worked to transform old industrial sites into usable properties to attract new business—and jobs—to the South Sound region. While the process, called environmental remediation, can be complicated, slow, and expensive, it’s a body of work that ports are uniquely suited to undertake.
Remedial action at the Port
The Port of Tacoma owns about half of the 5,000 acres that make up the Tacoma Tideflats. Our proximity to this heavy industrial center means we’re in the right place to address legacy contamination left by others.
Remediation work can be complicated, slow, and expensive. To date, we have spent more than $200 million on remediating approximately 1,100 acres, with plans to clean up several hundred more acres.
The Port has been a leader in restoring Commencement Bay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's first sediment Superfund Site. We have remediated four of the seven Commencement Bay waterways: the Blair, Sitcum, Milwaukee and Hylebos.
We are currently working on developing cleanup action plans for 10 of our upland properties and have started remedial design to implement the cleanup action plan at Parcel 15, a former sawmill and log export facility.
Funding for cleanup and brownfield redevelopment
Model Toxics Control Act
Both the Remedial Action Grant and the Hazardous Substances Tax were established by a voter’s initiative called the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA).
Learn more about the history of MTCA on the Washington Public Ports Association blog post.
We have been working for decades with the Washington State Department of Ecology to remediate legacy contamination of upland sources and is committed to the ongoing cleanup of Port-owned upland properties.
For private developers, redevelopment opportunities don’t usually pencil out when the costs of remediation are factored in. But unlike private developers, public organizations like ports can offset the high costs by leveraging state and federal funding and grants, like the state Ecology’s Remedial Action Grants. To date, the Port has received over $34 million in funding through this grant.
These grants are funded by the state Hazardous Substances Tax, which is paid by companies responsible for importing toxic chemicals into the state. In addition, we actively pursue cost recovery from the original polluter throughout the cleanup process.
The Port collects a small property tax and those dollars can also be used to leverage these expensive cleanups. Through grants and cost recovery efforts, we are able to recover about 45 cents for every dollar spent on remediation.