Part of protecting and preserving our waterways is making sure pollution from former eras is removed safely. Soundkeeper has been deeply involved in the process of cleaning up the Lower Duwamish River, which was declared a federal Superfund site in 2001, and monitors the progress of other cleanups and priority areas throughout Puget Sound.
Lower Duwamish Waterway Cleanup
In 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency designated a five mile stretch of the Lower Duwamish Waterway as a Superfund site, due to contaminants from decades of industrial activity. Shellfish, crabs and resident fish in the lower Duwamish are unsafe to eat due to the presence of these toxic chemicals, which include PCBs, arsenic, PAHs, and dioxins. Yet many people rely on the Duwamish as a food source, and the river is a critical piece of the regional economy in Puget Sound.
In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency released a proposed cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish. The $305 million proposal was strong in some areas but still would fail to make the Duwamish safe for the communities that live and fish along its shores. Soundkeeper supported the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition in advocating for a more intensive and thorough cleanup of the river. The EPA received over 2,000 comment letters in 10 languages supporting a stronger cleanup.
In 2014, the EPA released a stronger cleanup plan. However, DRCC is still working to ensure that the plan will be effective, equitable, and beneficial to Duwamish communities. Soundkeeper works closely with DRCC and supports their recommendations for a strong cleanup, and is participating in community meetings and advocacy work to make sure that we can recover a clean, healthy Duwamish river.