Contact Us


All News Releases By Date


Superfund Investigation Target: Harbor Island East Waterway Sediments

Release Date: 10/24/2006
Contact Information: Ravi Sanga, 206-553-4092 Tony Brown, 206-553-1203

(Seattle, WA – October 24, 2006) The U.S Environmental Protection Agency is launching a comprehensive sediment investigation of the Harbor Island East Waterway Superfund Site in Seattle’s Elliott Bay. The work is being conducted by the Port of Seattle under an Administrative Order on Consent between the Port and EPA. The Order covers the East Waterway Operable Unit of the Harbor Island Superfund Site.

The joint investigation will update and complete the assessment of environmental risks and further assess human health risks in the East Waterway and will include sampling in areas not formerly studied and research focused on various clean-up technologies. According to Dan Opalski, EPA’s regional Superfund Clean Up director, the Port’s investigation is expected to take three years, with EPA’s goal to make a clean-up decision for the waterway using the information resulting from of the investigation.

“Sediment investigations are perhaps the least ‘flashy’ aspect of Superfund work,” said EPA’s Opalski. “But identifying what chemicals are down there, where they are and determining their toxicity and risk is crucial to designing a cleanup that’s both protective and cost-effective. The Port’s work will be key to this project.”

Harbor Island was placed on the EPA National Priorities List in 1983 due to past contamination from a secondary lead smelter, as well as the releases of other hazardous substances from other Harbor Island industrial operations. East Waterway is one of several operable units and is the last operable unit in the Harbor Island Superfund site where a final cleanup decision has not been made.

Some work already has been done in the East Waterway, including previous investigations and one “hotspot” cleanup, completed in 2005, where the Port of Seattle under a similar order, removed over 200,000 cubic yards of contaminated material and placed a layer of sand on the bottom of that portion of the waterway to protect mud-dwelling organisms from chemicals that still exceeded state standards. The clean-up was focused on removing chemicals responsible for environmental risks including poly-chlorinated bi-phenyls (PCBs), metals and pesticides. Monitoring of the sand layer is ongoing.

Recently, successful cleanups at the Todd Shipyard facility and another Lockheed shipyard have been completed. At these sites, 330,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments were dredged and removed from the sites, 7800 pilings were removed, and over 5 acres of fish-friendly inter-tidal habitat were created. Sediment cleanup projects like these are a significant part of the EPA's continuing efforts to the remove toxins from Puget Sound.

# # #
Subscribe to automatically receive Region 10 News Releases via email at: