Duwamish River cleanup plan to weigh cultural concerns

Decades of industrial and urban waste have badly contaminated South Seattle’s Duwamish waterway, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will determine the long-awaited, final cleanup plan of this Superfund site later this year.

In the meantime, William Daniel, associate professor in the School of Public Health, is working with two community organizations to conduct a health-impact assessment of the cleanup. The EPA cleanup plan will take years to complete and have an enormous impact on the health of people who use the Duwamish River or live nearby.

The assessment will include nutritional and cultural impacts of fish contamination, gentrification pressures on local neighborhoods, and opportunities for local economic redevelopment. It will help decision-makers make choices to help mitigate the risks to those who live and play around the Duwamish.

“The river will be cleaner but it still will not be completely safe,” Daniel says. “There will still be advisories that warn people not to catch and eat the fish.”

The assessment is funded by a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust.