Tacoma developer looks to use contaminated land, residents pushing back

Controversy is brewing in the South Sound over a large plot of open land in the middle of a major city.

Developers want to turn nearly 150 acres into warehouses, designed for companies thriving in the explosive growth of e-commerce. But, neighbors worry about air and water pollution, and whether Tacoma is the right place for development.

Part of the property is a contaminated Superfund site, awaiting cleanup from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Neighbors worry if not properly handled, an underground aquifer and a stream are at risk.

"I don’t know how you mitigate for heart disease," said Erin Dilworth, policy manager at Communities for a Healthy Bay.

Dilworth is part of growing opposition to what could become of this green space in Tacoma. It has attracted a company that specializes in speculative industrial land development, especially in places close to large population centers.

Bridge Industrial is currently working with city planners to mitigate a stream on the land, flood challenges, traffic impacts and more, to handle potentially large warehouse structures and thousands of vehicles and trucks coming in and out of the South Tacoma neighborhood, should the project be approved.

The EPA says hazardous waste once dumped on the property have been isolated and capped. Inspections and monitoring continues to keep people and water supply safe.

A spokesperson for Bridge Industrial shared a statement with FOX 13 News that reads:

"Bridge is fully committed to delivering a project that complies with all environmental regulations and will continue to work with governments to ensure final plans meet rigorous standards."

Even so, all the traffic and emissions that come with such a large development could impact air quality, said Dilworth. And she said another proposal for the property is also possible.

"What’s being proposed by the South Tacoma Neighborhood Council is an economic green zone," she said. "It’s industry that’s not going to make the neighborhood there sick. I really do think there are better uses for that property."

There has been so much public inquiry about the project, the City of Tacoma hosted a public meeting to discuss it. People can drop in virtually and ask questions, and hear from the city and Bridge Industrial.

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