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Council Approves Independent Investigation of West Point Treatment Plant Disaster

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Community Meeting This Saturday

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The Metropolitan King County Council has given its unanimous approval to legislation authorizing a wide-ranging and fully independent investigation of what occurred in the lead up and aftermath of the catastrophic failure of the West Point system

The adopted ordinance now places the Council in charge of the investigation into the breakdown at the wastewater treatment plant on February 9, which has forced millions of gallons of untreated sewage and storm runoff into Puget Sound. The plant is still discharging mostly untreated water as of today.

“I’m very pleased that today the Council authorized a fully independent review of exactly what happened on February 9, when hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated storm water and raw sewage were dumped into the Sound,” said the prime sponsor of the motion, Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, whose district is where the West Point Treatment Plant is located. “The public deserves to know exactly what happened and why and how it happened, as well as deserves assurance that this will never happen again.”

“This is the right and responsible thing to investigate so we all know what happened,” said Regional Water Quality Committee Chair Kathy Lambert. “The people of King County deserve a full and independent investigation, so we can protect ourselves in the future.”

“It is vital that King County gets to the bottom of what triggered the unprecedented failure of the West Point Treatment Plant, and learn what steps we can take to ensure this type of disaster does not ever happen again,” said Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski. “I believe an independent review is essential, as the public needs to have the utmost confidence in the report regarding what went wrong at the plant.”

West Point management falls under the Executive branch of King County government. Under the terms of the measure passed today, the investigative process will be led solely by the Council, which constitutes an entirely separate branch of government from those in charge of West Point. This legislation relieves the concerns of several Councilmembers who felt it was inappropriate for those in charge of the plant to be directing the investigative effort.

Last week, the Executive branch announced it had selected its own 3rd party investigator, but has withdrawn from that process, leaving the Council-led effort as the definitive review of what occurred at West Point. “Teamwork has paid off,” said Councilmember Kohl-Welles, “as we’ve reached agreement on the Council’s leading this effort in consultation with the Executive branch.”

Members of the public who are interested in learning more can come to a community meeting this Saturday, March 18, being convened by Councilmember Kohl-Welles. The meeting will start at 10:00 a.m. and will be held at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Magnolia, at 2330 Viewmont Way West in Magnolia Village.

Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Fax:
206-296-0198