Arsenic Clean Up Complicating North Everett Home Sales

October 24, 2017


While its been a hot real estate market lately some people in one north Everett neighborhood are feeling burned. Recently a pair of sisters tried to sell a family home on East Marine View Drive only to find out no lenders would loan on the property as it was still waiting for cleanup of arsenic in the soil. For the past eight years the Department of Ecology has been cleaning upland areas that are mostly residential within what is known as the Everett Smelter Plume Area.


It’s becoming harder for Ecology to find funds to finish the cleanup.


Signs like this outline the cleanup efforts now underway in the area near 9th and Pine street.


Work is underway in the 900 block of Pine.


Records show the house at 907 Pine was sold in August. Cleanup work and fencing went up at the start of this month.


This house went on the market in August but once it was revealed there was arsenic banks would not finance the deal.

The Asarco smelter operated in Everett from 1894-1912. Smelter operations left high levels of arsenic and lead on the former smelter property.

Contaminated particles from the smokestacks settled over the surrounding area but the contamination was only discovered in 1990. From 1999-2007, Washington State Department of Ecology managed cleanup of the most highly contaminated areas, including the former smelter property. In 2009, Ecology received funding through a bankruptcy settlement with Asarco to continue cleanup work.

They have now spent most of the settlement funds on residential cleanups in the Upland Area and development of a cleanup plan for the Lowlands Area. They are actively seeking additional state funds to continue cleanup.

This month Ecology started cleanup on eleven homes in the Delta neighborhood. The area includes at least one home that was sold in August of this year where it appears the seller never disclosed the arsenic cleanup. reached out to the Department of Ecology about the rules regarding disclosure and the issues surrounding properties in the Everett Smelter Plume Area. Sandra Mathews is the site manager for the Toxics Cleanup Program and provided the following information…

Yes, it is the responsibility of the seller and their representatives to disclose contamination, the same as radon and lead based paint under RCW 64.06.020. However, the Department of Ecology does not have authority to enforce that rule. Periodically, we hear that contamination information has not been disclosed during a property sale. We have done some outreach to real estate agents, and they should be aware of the requirement.

It’s true, the funding situation for this project is getting more difficult. Over the past 8 years, we have been sampling and cleaning up properties using fund from a settlement with the owner of the former smelter facility. We have now spent most of the settlement funds. We are actively seeking additional state funds to continue cleanup of the remainder of the Everett Smelter site, including homes, parks, and industrial areas.

Our smelter cleanup program is voluntary and some owners choose not to participate. Some owners actively decline, and some passively decline by not responding to our invitation to participate.

I’d advise home buyers to check our website to find out the status of their property and to follow the healthy actions we list on our website. I have attached publication #16-09-262, entitled Buying or Selling a Home in the Everett Smelter Cleanup Area which contains information on home sales and healthy actions.

Buying a home in Everett Smelter cleanup area

On our website,, people can check to see:

  • If a property is in the cleanup area,
  • If the property was sampled,
  • What the sampling results were,
  • If the property has been cleaned up, and
  • What was cleaned up.

Another thing to know is that the arsenic contamination we are cleaning up is not an immediate risk to people’s health. It may increase your risk of certain cancers and diseases if it is ingested over a long period of time. The following healthy actions are good precautions to take in any urban area. People can protect themselves from swallowing arsenic if they follow these actions.

  • Wash your hands well after playing in the dirt.
  • Keep dust down—damp mop and damp dust regularly.
  • Wear gloves while you garden
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them to remove the surface dirt.
  • Take your shoes off. Don’t track dirt in the house.
  • Brush and bathe your pets often
  • Garden in raised beds or containers filled with clean soil.
  • Vacuum often with a machine that has a HEPA filter.
  • Wash toys and pacifiers often.

Editor’s note: In researching this story realtors and regulators both told us buyers and sellers should do as much research as possible to determine the history and past uses of any property you’re buying in Everett, Washington.


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My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring news and events in Everett, Washington. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett.

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