TACOMA, Wash. -- Tacoma’s Foss Waterway is heavily monitored for any toxins that threaten its cleanup. So when workers with Tacoma’s Environmental Services Division discovered traces of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the waste water system, they launched an investigation.
They found the source and possibility identified a problems for many other cities in the region, state and country.
Investigators tracked the PCBs, which have been determined to cause cancer and other health problems, several miles up the storm sewer system. It led them to a small 1970s-era neighborhood on Tacoma’s east side. Workers took samples and found a sealant used in the joints between the curb and streets in five blocks of the neighborhood were contaminated with PCBs.
The affected area is basically on East 61st and 62nd streets between East I and K streets and East E street between East 64th and East 65th Streets. (See map)
Experts say the levels and location of the sealant make it a very unlikely threat to human health, but it poses risks to sea life at the other end of the system. They also believe this neighborhood was not the only one treated with that sealant in the past in Tacoma and other cities.
The division notified neighbors they are safe but the sealant will be removed during a project in the spring.