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Boeing will clean up lower Duwamish Waterway in Seattle

A sign warns of pollution in the Duwamish River. (Photo: Washington State Dept. of Health) From Green Right Now Reports Boeing today said it will create nearly five acres of...
A sign warns of pollution in the Duwamish River. (Photo: Washington State Dept. of Health)

A sign warns of pollution in the Duwamish River. (Photo: Washington State Dept. of Health)

From Green Right Now Reports

Boeing today said it will create nearly five acres of contiguous intertidal wetlands, restore more than half a mile of waterway and establish a resting area for migratory fish as part of an an environmental cleanup and habitat restoration project in and along Seattle’s lower Duwamish Waterway.

The project is part of a settlement agreement in which Boeing agreed to clean up high priority areas. The agreement – signed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Interior, the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Indian tribes – fulfills significant federal and state requirements for Boeing along the waterway.

Boeing said the cleanup and restoration activity is scheduled to begin in fall 2012, once final agency approvals and permits are obtained, and is expected to take several years to complete. The project will involve excavating more than 100,000 cubic yards of sediment and replacing it with clean sand.

“We are committed to restoring habitat along the Duwamish and conducting environmental work that is vital to the ecosystem, nearby wetlands, the Puget Sound and to our community,” Mary Armstrong, Boeing vice president of Environment, Health and Safety, said in a statement. “This is the largest planned habitat restoration in the Duwamish Waterway, and it will provide an important ecological resource to improve Puget Sound fish runs.”

Boeing said the work is being done in a way to mitigate the impact of materials flowing into the waterway from Boeing property, nearby King County International Airport, local highways and roads and surrounding businesses and residential neighborhoods.

As part of the effort, Boeing will demolish several aging buildings located at its Plant 2 facility in Seattle to facilitate cleanup efforts. The buildings, which were partially constructed on pilings over the waterway between 1936 and 1941, produced many of the B-17s used in World War II and have not been an active part of Boeing’s airplane production operations for 40 years.

Boeing will demolish the buildings, cleaning up the effects from past practices and restoring the waterway and nearby wetlands. The company is developing plans to commemorate the site’s historic legacy prior to the demolition.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of recent developments in restoring the Duwamish Waterway. On March 3, Boeing and the Washington State Department of Ecology reached agreement on plans to test soil, ground water and sediment at the 9.8-acre Isaacson site and the 19.4-acre Thompson site, both south of Plant 2. On Feb. 12, Boeing, King County and the City of Seattle reached agreement regarding cleanup of Slip 4, a 6.4-acre parcel of the waterway north of Plant 2.

The Duwamish Waterway was created in the early 1900s when a 9.3-mile (14.9-kilometer) stretch of the waterway in south Seattle was straightened, dredged and transformed into a 5.3 mile-long (8.5 kilometer) navigational channel with deep-water port facilities. In 1909, what was then the world’s largest man-made island was built at the mouth of the waterway for industrial uses. Boeing began operations along the Duwamish Waterway in 1936. In 2001, the waterway was listed as a Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Puget Sound Regional Council estimates that businesses along the lower Duwamish Waterway currently provide approximately 80,000 jobs, and that 84 percent of the industrial lands within the city of Seattle are located along the waterway.


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