The Port of Tacoma is putting a key waterfront tract on the market as it moves to diversify its mix of Tideflats businesses and put vacant property back to productive uses.
The 12-acre tract on the west side of the Hylebos Waterway at 2901 Taylor Way was once part of the site of an Arkema chemical plant that the port purchased in 2007. The plant had ceased production in 1997.
The plant produced such chemicals as chlorine, sodium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid and Penite, an herbicide containing arsenic. Many of those chemicals were used in the pulp and paper industry.
During the plant's tenure, some wastes were dumped into pits on the site creating "lakes" of toxic materials. Leaking tanks also added to pollution on the site.
Port of Tacoma spokeswoman Tara Mattina said the port completed cleanup of the site this last winter. According to the state Department of Ecology, part of that cleanup included excavating and removing materials in the pits that had leached into the surrounding soil.
Mattina said the port will be covering the site this summer with clean material. The tract will be available for water-related development beginning in January of next year.
The site, near the head of the Hylebos Waterway, is adjacent to port log export facilities. The Hylebos is one of several waterways that penetrate the Tideflats from Commencement Bay. It is the eastern-most of the those waterways.
The port typically leases its waterfront land rather than selling it.
Several key Tideflats tracts are now on the market as the port moves to generate more income from its land inventory.
Among those is the site of a former Kaiser Aluminum smelter that was once destined to become a fuel tank farm. That deal collapsed last fall, and the port has been soliciting offers from new users.
Port commissioners are expected to approve a deal with that new occupant within the next few weeks.
Diversifying the port's business has been a focus of the port administration since the recession beginning six years ago took a big slice out of the port's main business, container imports. While Tacoma has gained some of that lost business back, American West Coast ports are facing new challenges.
Those challenges include new competition from Canadian and Mexican ports that enjoy cost and tariff advantages and from a wider Panama Canal that is expected to divert some cargo to an all-water route to the East Coast.
Those threats come at a time when major shipping lines are forming alliances, cutting back on port calls and employing bigger ships on Asian trade routes, some of which require new facilities to transfer cargo.