Thursday, December 2, 2010

Act now to clean up the Duwamish river!

Seattle Community Council Federation

At our November meeting Heather Trim from People for Puget sound presented a compelling argument for prompt action. Here's a summary of what she told us:


The Duwamish River is one of the most polluted sites in Puget Sound as well as one of the most polluted sites in the US. It is in the process of being cleaned up.  The River is polluted for 5.5 miles with PCBs, dioxin/furans, PAHs, and arsenic as well as 39 other chemicals at levels above standards.  We need your help in asking Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the WA Department of Ecology for a strong cleanup option.

Email EPA and Ecology to give your opinion about the cleanup by clicking here.
Or attend a public meeting and give your public comments:
December 7, 5:30–8:30 p.m.: Concord International Elementary School, 723 Concord Ave S, in South Park. Spanish interpretation, food and child care provided.
December 9, 3:30–8:30 p.m.: (with information sessions at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.): South Seattle Community College–Duwamish Campus, 6737 S. Corson Ave., in Georgetown. Vietnamese interpretation and food provided.
EPA and the Department of Ecology have released a "menu" of 12 cleanup options for the Duwamish River.  The cleanup options have various proportions of the following techniques:
  •  “Natural recovery” in which the pollution is left in place and natural sedimentation from upriver slowly covers it over and dilutes it;
  • “Capping” in which a layer of clean sand and gravel is placed over the polluted area to create a barrier above the contaminated material; and
  • “Dredging” in which the polluted material is removed from the river and is transported to a hazardous waste landfill.
The costs of the 12 options range from $210 million (mostly natural recovery) to $1.3 billion (mostly dredging).  This range of options also ranges from least certain to most certain in terms of long-term success.  All of the cleanup options will take at least 10 years as this is a big site.
Unfortunately, none of the 12 options are expected to cleanup the river enough to protect the health of tribal and subsistence fishermen who eat the seafood from the river, mostly because of ongoing sources of pollution. The options don't describe what is being done to control continuing pollution, which has the potential to undermine the cleanup effort by recontaminating the river bottom with PCBs, dioxins, arsenic and other chemicals. No pollution control plans are currently in place for upriver sources.

People For Puget Sound is on the advisory forum for the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/TAG (DRCC/TAG).  DRCC/TAG has had the cleanup options reviewed by independent technical advisors and has the following main recommendations:
  • The river must be cleaned up to "natural background" levels to best protect human health
  • Upriver pollution source control must be addressed for an effective and equitable cleanup
  • Only one option (Alternative #6R) provides a permanent cleanup that ensures it is done once and done right
  • An Environmental Justice Assessment is needed to make sure that all populations are protected
Click here for the full fact sheet and a sample letter.
Click here for more information about the Duwamish River Superfund Site.

Click here to send an email to EPA and Ecology voicing your opinion.

Thank you for your help!

Rein Attemann,
Heather Trim,

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