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DNR and Point Ruston reach agreement to help clean up Puget Sound
On Thursday morning, October 18, 2012, representatives from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Point Ruston, LLC (Point Ruston) finalized an agreement to complete the cleanup and remediation of more than 18 acres of state-owned aquatic lands contaminated by nearly 100 years of industrial operations at the former American Smelting and Refining Company (Asarco) site.
Point Ruston is undertaking the redevelopment of this 97-acre site, which is currently one of the state’s largest development projects with nearly one million square feet of commercial and retail space and 1,200 residential units being developed on this nearly one-mile-long waterfront property. Over the last four years, DNR and Point Ruston engaged in various aspects of the cleanup of the aquatic lands at this site, which is situated along Commencement Bay at the southern end of Puget Sound.
Since 2007, Point Ruston has completed nearly $7.5 million in environmental cleanup of the state aquatic lands, capping more than 10.5 acres of Puget Sound sediments and armoring nearly one mile of shoreline. This latest agreement will result in the capping of the remaining nine acres of state-owned aquatic lands at this site.
“This is the final cleanup to restore our aquatic lands and bring the toxic legacy of this superfund site to an end,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.
State Senator Derek Kilmer was the lead author of the jobs bill that included state funding for the cleanup. Kilmer stated, “This is a great step forward for the Point Ruston development and cleanup of this site. This settlement takes another step in cleaning up Puget Sound and creating jobs at a time when we need them the most.”
Point Ruston is currently constructing its public Waterwalk esplanade and Peninsula Park in conjunction with DNR, the City of Tacoma, and Metro Parks District of Tacoma. Once work on the sediment capping project is completed, the Waterwalk and Peninsula Park will provide more than one mile — and 22 acres — of additional public waterfront linkage along Ruston Way to the 702-acre Point Defiance Park.
“When we purchased this property in 2006, we took on the daunting task of bringing all of the stakeholders to the table and allocating the costs of this cleanup to the responsible parties,” said Mike Cohen, Managing Partner of the development company behind the Point Ruston project. “Usually a settlement process like this is litigious and unfriendly. However, Commissioner Goldmark stepped up and led the settlement negotiations to a successful conclusion. Put simply, the cleanup, the jobs that will be created, and the public access to one of the most spectacular views of Puget Sound would not be possible without him… it was his leadership that made it happen.”
Congressman Norm Dicks, a longtime supporter of the Point Ruston development and related cleanup stated, “Today’s agreement represents another step forward in our effort to clean up and restore Puget Sound for future generations. I want to congratulate Commissioner Peter Goldmark, State Senator Derek Kilmer, and Point Ruston’s Managing Partner, Mike Cohen, for their unique public-private collaboration that creates jobs while improving the health of Commencement Bay.”
About DNR - Stewardship of state aquatic lands
As steward of the 2.6 million acres of state aquatic lands, DNR manages the bedlands under Puget Sound and the coast, many of Washington’s beaches, and natural lakes and navigable rivers. DNR manages these lands not only to facilitate navigation, commerce, and public access, but also to ensure protection of aquatic habitat. State-owned aquatic lands include:
- About 68,100 acres of state-owned tidelands, or 106 square miles
- 90,000 acres of harbor areas
- All submerged marine lands below extreme low tide—that’s 3,430 square miles of bedlands under navigable waters, as well as freshwater shorelands and bedlands
Peter Goldmark, who administers the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, is Washington’s 13th Commissioner of Public Lands since statehood in 1889.