Sound Status Update — June 2018

Hey folks,

June was a SUPER fun month for us at Citizens for a Healthy Bay. Despite a lot of June Gloom, we toughed it out and enjoyed some really fun moments with the community, like the beach cleanup at Jack Hyde Park where volunteers picked up 50lbs of trash, or cheering on the SEVENTY48 racers who participated in that historic race (more on that later).

But don’t let our outside fun fool you­ – we’re hard at work advocating for the best possible cleanup at the Occidental Chemical Site, and monitoring WestRock’s new chip screening system.

WestRock’s Proposed New Chip Screening System

WestRock LLC, a pulp and paper mill located in the Tacoma Tideflats, is proposing to update its chip screening system. Their proposed new system will increase efficiency and productivity at the mill by removing more knots and finer materials while also screening out more harmful particulate matter. The proposal will allow WestRock to process an additional 66-67 tons of pulp per day, when operating at max capacity. This increase in production will cause an increase in WestRock’s emissions of particulate matter (like dust), volatile organic compounds and toxic air pollutants (like formaldehyde and chloroform). However, the projected increase in emissions fall below state standards set for toxic air pollutants (WAC 173-460-150).

The Washington Department of Ecology regulates emissions from pulp and paper mills, and has made a Determination of Non-Significance for this proposal, meaning that Ecology doesn’t think it’s likely this proposal will pose significant negative environmental impacts. The public comment period for this proposal has been extended to July 18th. We encourage anyone who is interested in this proposal to attend the public comment hearing on Wednesday, July 17th at the Portland Avenue Community Center, Game Room A (located at 3513 Portland Ave E).

Learn more about the project and public participation opportunities at Ecology’s website.

Cleanup at the Occidental Chemical Site

The Occidental Chemical cleanup site (or OxyChem), for those who may not know, is the worst toxic contamination remaining in Commencement Bay. The site is a toxic leviathan located along the Hylebos Waterway with a pollution plume that’s as deep as the height of the Seahawks stadium and more than four times the area. Mixed in with the groundwater is a polluted concoction: volatile chemicals with alkaline levels so high they’re stronger than drain cleaner and dissolve rocks into jelly—and PCB’s—a chemical the EPA banned in 1979. The pollution has already seeped into groundwater, and there is a serious concern it will reach a waterway, posing a grave threat to salmon, shellfish, and even the orcas that live in the South Sound.

CHB has been a part of the OxyChem cleanup since the very beginning, and we expect to hear more details regarding Ecology’s response to our 2017 comment letter will look like from the Washington Department of Ecology in the upcoming weeks.

To stay on top of what’s happening with the OxyChem cleanup, or any other environmental issues in South Puget Sound, subscribe to our Action Alert Email List!

Tacoma Beach Cleanup

Earlier this June, we participated in the first ever Tacoma Ocean Fest, a free community festival meant to bring the community together through arts, sciences and water activities to celebrate the oceans and inspire people to protect it. So, naturally, we decided to kick Ocean Fest off with a beach cleanup at Jack Hyde Park with the South Sound Surfrider Chapter, where the amazing volunteers who participated picked up 50 pounds of trash in just one hour! Among the trash was 65 cigarette butts, 16 cans, and other plastic materials like bottles, wrappers, and even fake rose petals. We had a blast cleaning up our environment and our community and hope to see everyone again soon!

Click here to get email notifications about future volunteer opportunities.


SEVENTY48 was an incredible adventure race that happened in Tacoma earlier this month. SEVENTY48 stands for 70 miles in 48 hours and is an on-water, human-powered race starting in Tacoma’s Thea Foss Waterway and ending in Port Townsend just 48 hours later.

This was a historic event for Tacoma and our waters. Just 20 years ago, the Thea Foss Waterway was a designated Superfund Site and considered one of the most polluted sites in the United States. SEVENTY48 demonstrated what can be accomplished with a united community that’s committed to cleaning up the environment. This race was a huge reward for many of those who worked so hard to clean up our waters, and I already can’t wait to cheer on the racers at next year’s event!

We Need Your Support to Succeed

Friends, Citizens for a Healthy Bay has been more active than ever before in our 28 years as the only environmental organization that focuses solely on Tacoma and its environment. Because of the support from incredible partners like you, we can continue to progress towards achieving our shared vision of engaged communities who are fired up about working to clean up, restore, and protect our local waters.

We need your support to continue our crucial advocacy work, long-term solutions, and on-the-water pollution prevention that will make our communities a healthier place to live. Please pitch in whatever you can, because whether you give a little or a lot, every contribution helps our environment.

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