Upcoming Event: Public Forum on The Duwamish River Cleanup

Looking down the Duwamish to Elliott Bay, © 2013 Jon Sharpe

When: Thurs, April 18 5:30-7:30pm
Where: Portage Bay CafĂ©391 Terry Ave N, South Lake Union

The Public Forum is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Space is limited and only those who RSVP can be guaranteed admittance. CLICK HERE TO RESERVE A SPACE

What does the cleanliness and health of Seattle's "invisible river," the Duwamish, have to do with the health and well-being of residents of Seattle and the Puget Sound? Come learn about the on-going cleanup of this waterway that runs through the heavily industrialized areas south of Elliott Bay. 

The Public Forum is being held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of NIEHS-sponsored Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers. Dr. Linda Birnbaum, NIEHS Director, will attend the event and provide introductory remarks. This will be followed by seven "lightning talks" - five minutes each with 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds. This makes for a high-energy, fast-paced, and fun event - this won't be your typical panel presentation! The presentations will be followed by time for informal table discussions and a Q&A with the presenters. 

Our own Kelly Edwards will moderate the session. The presenters include:

Some background: The Duwamish River has been Seattle's working river for 100 years. Heavy industrial use has left the waterway contaminated with toxic chemicals from industries along its banks, stormwater pipes, and runoff from streets, roads, and upland activities. Pollution in the river sediments includes polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins/furans, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (cPAHs), and arsenic. The most common pollutant is petroleum. The Duwamish Superfund Site is one of the most polluted places in the US. Many of these chemicals stay in the environment and have built to unsafe levels in resident fish and shellfish. The Washington State Dept of Health has issued a Fish Advisory warning against eating resident fish and shellfish from the Duwamish River.

The Georgetown and South Park neighborhoods surrounding the Duwamish are home to a disproportionate number of low-income and recent immigrant residents. The river is also part of the traditional fishing grounds of three Northwest Tribes. Health officials know that many people still fish on the Duwamish and eat the contaminated seafood.

In 2001, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the lower 5 miles of the river, where the Duwamish flows into Puget Sound, a Superfund site. On February 28th, EPA released a proposed cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish Waterway. The agency will consider public comments about the plan until June 13th.