The EPA's long-awaited decision provides a roadmap for cleaning up historic contamination in the Lower Duwamish River. It follows a decade of early cleanup action and complements the Executive's effort to coordinate work being done across the 500-square-mile watershed.
King County Executive Dow Constantine thanked the federal Environmental Protection Agency for issuing its formal Record of Decision on the Superfund cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish River:
“Thanks to this long-awaited federal decision, we now have a roadmap for specific actions to clean up historic contamination of the Lower Duwamish River and meet our shared goal of protecting human health and the environment. It’s an historic decision that follows 14 years of scientific research and public engagement.
“It’s also a complex decision, one which we must review closely to understand what it will mean for King County and the health, economy, and environment of the Lower Duwamish, where communities face some of the greatest challenges.
“This restoration is more than a matter of policy for me. I’ve lived on the Duwamish Peninsula my whole life. As the industrial heartland of King County, the Duwamish River Valley is a center for well-paying, family-wage jobs that have provided generations with the opportunity to succeed. A healthy, growing economy also helps pay for the cleanup work that lies ahead.
“Today’s decision follows a decade of early actions by our Lower Duwamish Waterway Group to clean up nearly half of the legacy PCB contamination that contributed to the Superfund listing in the first place. Together we have already invested more than $40 million in scientific studies and $150 million in cleanup, including removal of 260,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment.
“But ultimately, the Lower Duwamish can only be as clean as the water that flows into it from upland and upstream. That’s why Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and I created the Green/Duwamish Watershed Strategy, a holistic approach to coordinate the work being done and money being invested across the entire ecosystem of this nearly 500-square mile watershed—including habitat restoration, cleanup and control of new pollution at the source, and testing of emerging technologies for cleanup of historic sediments.
"This approach will give the community greater certainty that the benefits of the Lower Duwamish cleanup will endure, by controlling upstream pollution and preventing recontamination from runoff that can carry motor oil, household cleaners, and pesticides.”