(File photo from partner site West Seattle Blog, by Christopher Boffoli)
The Environmental Protection Agency‘s final decision is in regarding the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site cleanup. So is early reaction. First, the EPA’s introduction/quick overview, from this webpage:
The Record of Decision – or “ROD” – is the EPA’s cleanup plan to reduce risks to people’s health and the environment from toxic chemicals in the river.
The plan includes details of the cleanup of about 177 acres in the waterway. Cleanup will involve dredging, capping, and natural sedimentation. The cleanup will cost an estimated $342 million.
These cleanup actions complement the work of state, county and city agencies to improve the health of the Green/Duwamish watershed. All of these actions together will remove over 90 percent of contamination in the waterway.
*The 181-page “Record of Decision” is here
*The EPA’s two-page “fact sheet” is here, envisioning a 17-year time frame – “7 years of active cleanup and 10 years of monitored natural recovery”
*More than 2,000 public comments were received before the final plan was developed/announced, and the EPA’s 150-page document of response to them is here
The EPA plans a public meeting to talk about the plan on Wednesday, January 21, 2015, time TBA, at the Concord International School gym in South Park.
Now, top-level reaction we have received via e-mail:
First, from the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, via coordinator James Rasmussen:
EPA has raised the floor on the ‘mandatory minimum’ that must be done. This decision removes more toxic waste than previously proposed – that helps to reduce the long term risks to the river and to the people who live and fish here.
However, what EPA is requiring does not go far enough – people’s health will still suffer unless we do more.
The good news is that EPA’s order opens the door to do just that. With each phase of the cleanup, this decision gives us the opportunity to go further, and protect people’s health better.
It is now up to our local elected governments to be proactive, and take action to fully protect our river and our health.
As for those elected governments – here are two statements received so far, first, from King County Executive Dow Constantine:
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.
And from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray:
“This is a huge day for Seattle’s only river, and for the people of Seattle. EPA’s final decision gets us closer to a healthier Duwamish River for our neighborhoods and our environment. Seattle and our partners have already invested over $150 million to cleanup key polluted sites within the river. We look forward to reviewing EPA’s decision and working with them to get the cleanup done.
“In order to have a clean river, we need a healthy system. The City will also continue to engage in other Duwamish watershed recovery efforts. In the years ahead, we will work with neighborhoods along the river on grassroots environment, health and recreation projects that are reconnecting the community to our natural heritage.”