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County Council calls for collaboration, equity, and best technology in cleanup of Duwamish


Unanimous support for new recommendations to proposed cleanup plan


In the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of its final cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish Waterway, the King County Council today approved a plan to work collaboratively with the community during the cleanup efforts.

“The South Park community has faced a lot of challenges over the years associated with poor air quality, water pollution and high concentrations of poverty,” said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, prime sponsor of the motion. “I am committed to working with the residents of South Park in these restoration efforts and I am glad that the Council is sharing in this commitment.”

“I am delighted to sponsor this motion that continues the work of the County – in coordination with Seattle, community leaders, planners and businesses – to manage the clean-up of the Duwamish River and Green/Duwamish watershed,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott. “A vital part of this work is the outreach and communication in engaging the communities affected by this action and I particularly commend the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition for their exceptional work and look forward to continued collaboration.”

The Lower Duwamish Waterway is the last 5.5 mile stretch of the Duwamish River that flows into Elliott Bay. Flanked by industrial users as well as the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods, there is a legacy of chemical pollution present in the sediments at the river’s bottom. Last December, the EPA announced a 17-year $342 million plan to clean up and monitor the waterway, a collaborative effort that will involve property owners along with local, state, and federal agencies. 

As the waterway cleanup planning moves to the next phase, the motion adopted by the Council is calling for the county to consider additional factors as it participates in the cleanup planning and implementation including:

  • Considering equity and social justice factors when they are participating with other agencies in the final remedial design for the cleanup of contaminated sediments.   
  • Supporting appropriate technologies for the cleanup and continued efforts at source control to reduce/eliminate contaminants entering the river; and
  • Coordinating with Seattle when considering on-going projects and services for resident, tribal and fishing communities, including studying the feasibility of an interagency fund to improve community health. 

The motion also calls on the EPA to report on efforts to engage communities affected by the cleanup while the County reports on its coordination efforts with the City of Seattle. 

Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at  and type in “2015-0167” 

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