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EPA Study Confirms Contamination in Lower Duwamish River

Release Date: 4/21/1999
Contact Information: David Bennett
(206) 553-2103

April 21, 1999 - - - - - - - - - - - 99-21

For Immediate Release
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that recent sampling of the lower Duwamish Waterway confirms that the river sediments are polluted with a wide variety of contaminants such as PCBs, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, dioxins/furans, and organotins (an additive in marine paint).

EPA’s sampling was conducted to gather information that can be used to determine eligibility for the National Priorities List (NPL), commonly referred to as the Superfund List. It will also provide comprehensive information on the contaminant distribution and support ongoing and future investigations within the river.
"Our data supports previous studies that documented contamination" said Mike Gearheard, Acting Director of the regional Superfund Program. "The contaminated area is large enough to warrant a comprehensive approach. Further investigation and clean-up needs to happen in a timely manner”"

In March, 1998, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),the federal agency responsible for the protection of natural resources in coastal and marine waters, petitioned EPA to conduct an assessment of the lower Duwamish River. Salmon and steelhead use the Duwamish as a migration corridor to and from spawning grounds and there is concern that contamination in the waterway is jeopardizing the health of the threatened Puget Sound chinook.

The EPA sampling focused on the collection of surface and subsurface (up to 4 feet deep) sediment chemical data from intertidal and sub-tidal sampling locations throughout the lower portion of the Duwamish River. EPA collected approximately 300 sediment surface and subsurface samples

EPA would like to meet with interested stakeholders to discuss possible clean-up approaches. If interested, please call David Bennett in Seattle at (206) 553-2103.

EPA’s contractor, Roy F. Weston, will hold a technical availability session on April 30th at 9:00am at 700 Fifth Avenue (room 39A/B) in Seattle to explain how the technical work was conducted.

A copy of the report is available for review at the EPA Records Center in Seattle. To arrange an appointment to review the document, please call (206) 553-4494.
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