by Christy Carley
(This article was originally published by Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
In late January, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a change to the cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish River, one of the nation’s most polluted waterways, which was declared a Superfund site in 2001. The proposal — which would allow for higher levels of certain pollutants to remain in the river sediment — generated frustration amongst community groups in South Seattle, who called for an extension of a public comment period on the change. Public comment now lasts until April 21.
At the center of the EPA’s proposal is a pollutant called benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), a carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (cPAH) that comes from burning coal and oil and is present in the sediment of the Duwamish River.
Continue reading Community Groups Oppose Slated Change to Duwamish River Cleanup
by Paulina López and Troy D. Abel
Recently, legislative debates turned from carbon pricing to the Healthy Environment for All Act (HEAL) uplifting environmental justice (EJ). This is important legislation, but what we really need are bold solutions and different laws addressing a persistent form of unjust and ongoing pollution. Air toxic exposure disparities and their impacts on communities like the Duwamish Valley are still being ignored by politicians and industry. This inattention continues even as new research suggests that higher air pollution may increase COVID-19 vulnerability and deaths.
Many environmentalists in our region not only overlook decades of toxic air pollution injustice, some even gloss over the problem. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Seattle office announced that industrial toxic releases declined in the Northwest. Pollution dropped 12% in 2019 for 752 facilities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. They further asserted “that U.S. companies that use and manage chemicals and metals continue to make progress in preventing pollution.”
But we knew that regional averages likely obscured trends in our heavily polluted Duwamish River Valley neighborhoods of Georgetown and South Park — often first documented by our community. EPA analysts lumped air, water, and land pollution together. When viewed separately, air and water pollution went up in the Northwest. Surface-water discharges increased by 1.17 million pounds and air pollution by 610 thousand pounds between 2018 and 2019.
Continue reading OPINION: Clean Air Everywhere, for Everyone in Washington
by Jack Russillo
From time immemorial, people living around the Duwamish River — where today’s city of Seattle has spread out from — have been heavily linked with the sea.
In September 2021, a new public Maritime High School will open its doors to give Seattle-area youth an opportunity to focus their education on the sea and other marine topics. On Monday, Jan. 11, the opening of Maritime High School was announced at a virtual press conference by partnering organizations Highline Public Schools, the Port of Seattle, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, and the Northwest Maritime Center.
Continue reading New Public Maritime High School to Open in September, Applications are Open for Prospective Students
by Jack Russillo
After more than six months of community outreach and coordination, six parks along the Duwamish River have new names. The new identities of the parks were announced at a virtual Port of Seattle meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
The public spaces on the industrialized Duwamish River previously all had names with numerical subjects, but now all six of them have names that correspond more with the ecological significance and cultural history of their individual locations. Four of the properties have new names in Lushootseed, the Indigenous language of people who lived near the Salish Sea, and two of the new names are in English.
Continue reading Six Parks Along the Duwamish River Get New Names, Four Are in Lushootseed
by Jack Russillo
After failing to meet pollution control deadlines, Seattle Iron & Metals Corporation (SIMC) will pay $90,000 to fund ecological restoration and pollution mitigation work in the Duwamish River Valley.
SIMC, a scrap metal and vehicle recycling facility on the 600 block of South Myrtle Street, agreed to new pollution control measures with Puget Soundkeeper, an environmental nonprofit, in a settlement reached in January 2019. The initial settlement required SIMC to make over $1 million worth of improvements at its facility to control air pollution, wastewater emissions, and polluted stormwater discharges. Under the settlement, SIMC also agreed to pay $200,000 to the Rose Foundation to fund local restoration and pollution mitigation work in the community.
Continue reading Seattle Iron & Metals to Pay Additional Penalties After Failing to Meet Environmental Regulations