EPA Releases Final Superfund Cleanup Plan for Lower Duwamish Waterway

EPA logoThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the final cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund site, a major industrial waterway that includes the mouth of the Duwamish River on the south end of Elliott Bay. 

The cleanup plan will remove 90 percent of pollution in the river with active cleanup of 177 acres by dredging, capping, and other methods.

The remaining low levels of contamination will be addressed by the river’s natural processes bringing in clean sediments to cover the contamination. The cleanup time-frame is estimated to be 17 years with an estimated cost of $342 million, with seven years of active cleanup and 10 years of natural recovery.

As part of the cleanup plan, the Washington State Department of Ecology will continue leading “source control” efforts that reduce incoming pollution to the river and support the EPA’s in-waterway cleanup.  The source control effort, coordinated by Ecology in cooperation with local governments and other parties, currently involves managing 30 state and federal cleanups along, or near, the waterway. In addition, Ecology is assessing pollution sources throughout the 480 square mile Green-Duwamish watershed to support and enhance the EPA in-waterway cleanup and Ecology’s source control strategy.

Industrial activity, stormwater, and combined sewer overflows have polluted the Lower Duwamish Waterway surface water and sediments over the past 100 years. Over 40 hazardous substances were found in sediments at concentrations that pose a risk to people and marine life. Resident Duwamish fish and shellfish, which are consumed by residents of local communities, accumulate contaminants that are harmful to human health. The primary contaminants of concern are PCBs, dioxins/furans, arsenic and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

As a result of early action work already underway, pollution in Duwamish surface sediments will be reduced by 50 percent in 2015. The City of Seattle, King County, the Port of Seattle, Boeing, and Earle M. Jorgensen recognized the need for a healthier Duwamish River and stepped up to do the work in parts of the river that contained the most contamination. “Local governments and businesses have done a tremendous job of addressing hot spots in the river before we even had a final cleanup plan,” said Dennis McLerran, Regional Administrator for EPA Region 10.

For more information on the final cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site, see: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/cleanup.nsf/sites/lduwamish