Commencement Bay Case Study

2160 Words 9 Pages
Environmental protection was non-existent a hundred years ago and because of this severe pollution effected all aspects of the environment. Commencement Bay, located in Washington state is an example of the devastating effects associated with unregulated industries dumping toxic industrial waste into an unprotected ecosystem. Due to the nature of industries located along the shoreline severe contamination of the waterway affected marine life and had the potential to cause significant health issues to the residents of the area. Discovery of the contamination forced local, state and federal agencies into action to control and remove the contamination at the largest Superfund site at that time. Collaboration between these agencies allowed Commencement …show more content…
It is fed by multiple fresh water creeks and most notably the Puyallup River which is the largest freshwater river in the area. Commencement Bay has a long history of industrial development, which has leant Tacoma its moniker the “City of Destiny” as well as its notoriety as the home of the “Aroma of Tacoma.” This development has also shaped Tacoma’s current shoreline and overall appearance. Originally, the shoreline was primarily an expanse of tideflats and estuaries, with large shellfish and seabird populations and important salmon habitat. The tideflats for thousands of years have supported tribes such as the Puyallup, by providing hunting, fishing and agriculture and more recently the import and export of the region’s abundant natural resources. Not to mention the deep waters of the bay enticed Western settlement and soon development by settlers from the Eastern United States quickly overtook the local landscape. The tideflats were filled in, and upon them was built the railroad, roads, homes, lumber mills, and the Port of Tacoma, drastically changing the landscape, the ecosystem, and the local economy. With prevalent industrial activity and hospitable conditions for ocean-going vessels, Tacoma rapidly became a significant …show more content…
It was apparent that upland and upstream industries were a contributor of pollution affecting the area. With the waterway and sediment severely contaminated it was clear that a major cleanup needed to be organized. In 1983, Commencement Bay and the Thea Foss Waterway was declared a “Superfund” site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the newly passed Comprehensive Environmental Response, Cleanup and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA, otherwise known as Superfund). After a hundred years of unregulated toxic industrial waste being dumped into Commencement Bay it was considered the worst Superfund site in the country at that time. Even with its bleak outlook and seemingly endless uphill struggle, Commencement Bay could easily have become a lost cause. The situation looked especially grim because some areas, along the Thea Foss Waterway and in what is now the vibrant museum district of downtown Tacoma, were all but deserted, suffering a brief economic collapse that happened to coincide with its designation as a Superfund site. Before cleanup could begin, steps needed to be taken to determine the scope and impact of pollution. These steps included a remedial investigation which looked at the nature and extent of the pollution and the risks to human health and the environment. A feasibility

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