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Councilmembers: EPA’s Duwamish Cleanup Plan continues effort to revitalize the “lifeblood” of Seattle


Metropolitan King County
Council News

Councilmembers: EPA’s Duwamish Cleanup Plan continues effort to revitalize the “lifeblood” of Seattle



Metropolitan King County Council Chair Larry Phillips, joined by Councilmembers Joe McDermott and Dave Upthegrove, said the announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency on the next steps for the cleanup of the Duwamish Waterway is part of the continuing effort to address historical pollution.

These members stated the EPA’s 17-year, $342 million plan is an example of the effort needed to clean up a century of toxic buildup caused by industrial pollution.

“Clean water in our community is a top priority for the public we serve. Our job is to not only clean over 100 years of pollution in the Duwamish, but prevent its recontamination in the future,” said Phillips. “This requires effective partnerships between local businesses and property owners, local government and the EPA so clean up and prevention efforts can proceed in a strong, sensible and lasting manner.”

“It is great to see this important work continue in order to improve the health and well-being of the people who live, work, and play near these waters,” said Upthegrove, chair of the Council’s Regional Water Quality Committee.

“It has been almost 15 years since the Lower Duwamish was declared a Superfund site. While significant cleanup efforts have already occurred in this waterway, I am pleased to see the EPA release a final cleanup plan because it will provide certainty to all those who call the Duwamish home,” said McDermott, who along with Upthegrove, represents the communities along the Lower Duwamish Waterway.

These members acknowledge the work proposed by the EPA builds on efforts to date to clean up the Duwamish, which has been declared a Superfund site. King County has been part of the effort, removing 73,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment in early action cleanups carried out in 1999 and 2004.

On December 2, the EPA announced its final plan for the cleanup of the Lower Duwamish Waterway, a plan and approach that has been in the works for over a decade. The “Record of Decision” (ROD) is the agency’s final plan to attack this problem. The EPA reports that the actions recommended in the ROD will remove over 90 percent of the contamination in the waterway that occurred over a century of industrial activity in the waterway, which flows from the industrial heart of Seattle into Elliot Bay. The plan will include:

• 105 acres of dredging or partial dredging and capping. An anticipated total volume of 960,000 cubic yards would be dredged and disposed in an upland permitted landfill.

• 24 acres of capping.

• 48 acres of enhanced natural recovery—placing a clean sand or dirt layer to speed up recovery of contaminated sediments.

The intent is to protect public health and the environment by reducing risk of exposure to toxins through contact.

Beyond being part of the Superfund effort, King County is working with or forming partnerships with the City of Seattle, the Bullitt Foundation and the University of Washington Green Futures Lab on the development of a strategy that will lead to tangible improvements in the environmental and economic health of the watershed that surrounds the Green and Duwamish rivers.

King County’s Green/Duwamish Watershed Strategy will coordinate the work already being done by local, state, and federal agencies, including the clean-up of the 5-mile stretch of the Lower Duwamish that is registered as a Superfund site. It will also address the need to reduce pollution that occurs upstream, such as storm water that brings motor oil, pesticides, and other contaminates into the watershed and, ultimately, into the Lower Duwamish, Elliot Bay and Puget Sound.

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