Duwamish Waterway

Cleaning Up an Urban Waterway

Duwamish Cleanup
Duwamish Cleanup
Boeing is two-thirds of the way through its "early action" dredging activities. This in-water work is conducted when juvenile salmon are not migrating.
Duwamish Cleanup
Duwamish Cleanup
Boeing monitors water quality and transmits real-time data during dredging.
Duwamish Cleanup
Duwamish Cleanup
By 2015, Boeing will have removed enough sediment to fill approximately 3,000 railcars and replaced it with clean sand to restore the waterway bed.

Early Actions, Long-term Benefits

Boeing has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to the health of the Lower Duwamish Waterway and surrounding communities over the last decade by making significant investments in numerous cleanups that, when combined with the other “early action” work in the waterway, will reduce health risks by 50-percent. Boeing’s early action and habitat restoration work spans nearly one mile of the Lower Duwamish Waterway to the north and south of the South Park Bridge.

Boeing transformed more than a half mile of industrial waterfront back into natural shoreline. This shoreline is in the footprint of the original Plant 2 facility, where B-17 bombers were assembled during World War II. The facility, which spanned over the water on more than 700 pilings, was demolished in 2011 and 85-percent of the building materials were recycled or reused.

In 2013, Boeing began excavating sediment that contains Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and other chemicals from the waterway near Plant 2 using state-of-the-art cleanup technology. When dredging is completed in 2015, a total of 165,000 cubic yards — enough to fill approximately 3,000 railcars — will have been removed and replaced with clean sand to restore the waterway.

This in-water work is conducted during “construction windows” when juvenile salmon are not migrating. Dredging is being done under the direction and oversight of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Washington State Department of Ecology.

Boeing also installed state-of-the-art stormwater treatment systems at North Boeing Field and Plant 2 to ensure facilities will not re-contaminate the waterway. The North Boeing Field system treated approximately 176 million gallons of stormwater in its first year of operation. The system at Plant 2 treats an average of 84 million gallons of stormwater annually.

Boeing is partnering with businesses, Tribes, government agencies and the local community to give the U.S. EPA and the Washington State Department of Ecology the tools to implement protective, timely and cost effective cleanup solutions for the Lower Duwamish Waterway.

A Timely, Effective Cleanup

The City of Seattle, Boeing, Port of Seattle and King County, which are collectively known as the Lower Duwamish Waterway Group, has been conducting cleanup investigations since 2001. The U.S. EPA and the Washington State Department of Ecology provide oversight of these efforts.

Scientific research concludes that most of the waterway's sediments pose low risk to human or environmental health. In fact, current levels of PCBs in the waterway sediment are lower than the cleanup goals that EPA has required other Superfund sites. The Lower Duwamish Waterway Group has proposed a cleanup strategy that will further:

  • Reduce human health risks as quickly as possible,
  • Minimize impacts to neighborhoods, businesses and the environment, and
  • Employ best-fit technology to ensure an effective cleanup of the Lower Duwamish Waterway.

The Lower Duwamish Waterway Group believes that the most environmentally beneficial and cost effective approach is to begin cleanup as soon as possible, and to select a plan that sets achievable goals and allows work to be completed as quickly as possible.

In February 2013, after more than a decade of scientific studies and early action cleanups, the EPA announced its proposed cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish Waterway. Its final Record of Decision is expected in 2014.