Boeing Signs Agreement to Build Storm Water Treatment System
System will help reduce pollution in Duwamish River and Puget Sound
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed an agreement with The Boeing Company to construct a new storm water treatment system at North Boeing Field in Seattle. The treatment system will greatly reduce the amount of toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are an ongoing source of pollution to the Duwamish River.
The North Boeing Field storm drain system carries storm water to the Duwamish River through more than seven miles of catch basins, drains, inlets and oil-water separators. Studies by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology), the city of Seattle and Boeing showed the North Boeing Field storm drain system is the biggest source of PCBs to the river sediments in slip 4, one of the most highly contaminated sites on the lower Duwamish waterway.
According to Lori Cohen, associate director of EPA’s Superfund cleanup office in Seattle, Boeing’s storm water treatment work will significantly reduce PCB discharge to the Duwamish River and better protect Puget Sound.
“Boeing’s investment in storm water treatment will pay dividends in cleaning up the lower Duwamish River and Puget Sound,” said Cohen. “By reducing the volume of PCBs released to the river from North Boeing Field, we’re taking a major step forward in controlling one of the biggest PCBs pollution sources on the Duwamish and allowing us to move forward with our cleanup work.”
With the installation of this storm water treatment system, cleanup of slip 4—one of several hot spot cleanups on the waterway—will proceed in 2011. Several acres of contaminated sediments in slip 4 will be cleaned up under an EPA settlement agreement with the city of Seattle and King County.
PCBs are toxic pollutants that stay in the environment for a long time and can build up in fish and shellfish. PCBs are found at unsafe levels in the sediments and fish of the Lower Duwamish River. Concerns about PCBs in fish prompted the state to issue a health advisory warning people not to eat any crab, shellfish or fish (except salmon) from the Lower Duwamish River.
Earlier this summer, Boeing agreed to design an initial storm water treatment system with EPA oversight during the negotiation of today’s agreement. The initial system began operating last week treating storm water from the most highly contaminated areas of North Boeing Field. The initial system will be managed under today’s agreement, and over the course of the next year, a long-term system will be put in place at the site. The treatment system is part of a broader effort to locate and contain or treat contamination in the North Boeing Field drainage area that flows into the storm water outfall at slip 4.
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