Health and environmental justice
Lower Duwamish communities are richly diverse. Unfortunately, many residents face unfair problems such as poor air quality and higher rates of diabetes and asthma. Some neighborhoods lack access to transit, parks and shops. Environmental problems and a lack of amenities can create a poorer quality of life for many residents than compared to other parts of Seattle.
King County is working to make sure that equity and social justice are reflected in decisions that affect people who live and work in the area. Superfund cleanup and controlling pollution will reduce the presence of harmful chemicals in the air, in the water and on the land, but cleanup alone cannot fix all of the problems residents face.
As we prepare for cleanup and the years following, it is essential that we do not continue to weigh down communities with traffic, pollution and fewer jobs.
Fixing inequities is a big and complicated job. King County cannot do it alone, so we are collaborating with other agencies and community groups. Together, we can make sure that the cleanup work serves broader justice and equity goals. King County has passed an ordinance that requires equity and social justice to influence policymaking. New policies will ensure that people have access to the same level of opportunity and ability to fulfill their potential, regardless of race, income and neighborhood.
Fishing and Shellfish Harvesting in the Duwamish
The Washington State Department of Health has issued a fish advisory (PDF) in the Lower Duwamish and has warned people to not to eat crab, shellfish and most fish because of pollution. Salmon are safer because they do not spend a lot of time in the river.
Some community members from lower income or immigrant households fish in the Lower Duwamish to feed their families; this puts them at increased risk for serious health problems.
Yet, unlike salmon, the fish and shellfish that live in the river year-round are exposed to toxic pollution that makes them unsafe to eat. Cooking does not remove these toxins. Eating contaminated fish and shellfish is especially dangerous for children, nursing mothers and pregnant women. Fish advisories are not uncommon in dense city areas. There are also fish advisories in Lake Washington, Green Lake and Puget Sound. Cleanup and other efforts will provide a healthier environment for fish and reduce the toxin levels in the fish, but it will not allow people to safely eat as much fish and shellfish as they want.
King County is working to make sure people reduce their risk of exposure to dangerous pollutants and toxins in fish by educating them about avoiding unsafe fish and shellfish (external link). This information is available in Spanish (PDF); Vietnamese (PDF); Cambodian (PDF); Hmong (PDF); Laotian (PDF); Chinese (PDF); and Russian.
After Superfund cleanup is completed, new guidelines will advise people on how much crab, fish and shellfish is safe to eat.
The Washington State Department of Health has issued a fish advisory (PDF) in the Lower Duwamish and has warned people to not to eat crab, shellfish and most fish because of pollution. Salmon are safer because they do not live most of their lives in the river.
For more information
Lower Duwamish Waterway Cleanup Plan Equity Impact Review, Final Draft, August 30, 2013
For more information about the Duwamish environmental cleanup process, please contact Caryn Sengupta.