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Councilmember O’Brien Bolsters Duwamish Community Efforts to Enhance Neighborhood Participation in River Cleanup

City of Seattle

Councilmember O’Brien Bolsters Duwamish Community Efforts to Enhance Neighborhood Participation in River Cleanup

SEATTLE – City Council unanimously approved a neighborhood-driven effort to enhance the community’s role in the Duwamish River cleanup process on Monday during a meeting of the Full Council. The adopted resolution creates an interdepartmental team (IDT) of City agencies to coordinate outreach efforts relating to the Duwamish cleanup, and identifies ongoing City projects that serve resident, tribal, and fishing communities in the Duwamish River Valley. The resolution also calls for engagement of communities of color, immigrants, refugees, limited-English proficiency communities, and people with low incomes in the design and implementation of the remaining cleanup.

In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated the Lower Duwamish Waterway as a “Superfund” site, a designation reserved for the most hazardous waste sites in the nation. The historical release of pollutants have harmed the ecology and created serious health risks to residents of South Park and Georgetown, from contaminated sediments, fish, and shellfish in the Duwamish River Valley. In the time since the Duwamish has been designated as a Superfund site, half of the contamination has been cleaned.

“This resolution comes in response to community concerns that their voice be represented in the cleanup process going forward,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, the legislation’s sponsor. “The City of Seattle isn’t only a responsible party to the cleanup; we’re also the government representative of the community. I intend for the community’s voice to be heard. Transparency and racial and social equity throughout the entire cleanup process is paramount.”

The Interdepartmental Team will consider programs relating to assistance in housing preservation and energy efficiency, environmental health, environmental justice, transit access, providing access to healthy food, and working to ensure Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses (WMBE) inclusion and local hire for cleanup work. The group will also explore the feasibility of creating an inter-agency fund to improve overall community health in the Duwamish River Valley, as a possible extension of the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund.

“Over the course of the cleanup effort to date, it has become clear that there are substantial social and economic needs in these communities along the river,” added Councilmember O’Brien. “Many of these needs cannot be addressed through the federal Superfund regulatory process, but can be addressed by the City through our current programs of work.”

Left to Right: Macklemore, Jasmine Marwaha and Councilmember Mike O’Brien, thank advocates Rein Attemann and James Rasmussen

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