There are concerns there may not be enough money to clean up contaminated site in Washington if the state doesn’t figure out a new way to raise money.
Almost 30 years ago, voters passed the Model Toxics Control Act, which approved a tax on hazardous materials including oil products. Local governments use that money to clean up toxic sites. Per the Department of Ecology, the fund is coming up $61 million short this year due in part to low oil prices.
That concerns people like Mindy Roberts with the Washington Environmental County, a non-profit that is pushing to find a different way to keep the MTCA fund above water.
"We have over 12,000 sites across the state about 6,000 have been cleaned up but we still have 6,000 to go. That's why we need to make sure the funds are available to keep going on these because the need isn't going away anytime soon. There's not enough money coming in to keep making progress on these sites so we are supporting some legislation in the legislature that would stabilize the sources of funding to clean up these sites," she said.
House Bill 2182 puts forth a new tax structure on hazardous substances. The tax collected would fluctuate if there was shortfall.
“It's so important to have a state level sources to clean up toxic pollution," she said.
Roberts and Melissa Malott, with Citizens for a Health Bay took reporters out on a boat ride of Commencement Bay, including the Foss Waterway and the Hylebos Waterway. Both, they say, are examples of contaminated sites that have been still have more work to do to eliminate the contamination that heavy industry left behind.
Malott said development of the Foss Waterway is a successful example.
"When you clean it up the community rebounds that life comes back to the waterway that community building houses and make it part of the community," she said.