Duwamish River | KUOW News and Information

Duwamish River

Finding beauty along Seattle's toxic scar

Aug 22, 2016
Courtesy of Tom Reese

Bill Radke speaks with photographer Tom Reese and journalist Eric Wagner about their book, "Once and Future River: Reclaiming the Duwamish." The three talk about the history of the Duwamish, how it became Seattle's forgotten river and the efforts to clean it up.

Captain Dave Stauffer of Island Tug and Barge steers a cleaner tugboat these days. No longer is the Duwamish river tracked with exhaust from tugboats leaving behind diesel. Still, problems remain with the health of the people who live nearby.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Tugboat captain Dave Stauffer used to reek of diesel.

“It’s just the smell of a boat,” Stauffer says. “Just like standing by a fire, you’re going to get some of that smoke on your clothes.”

Stauffer’s wife also grew used to the smell. “She’d say, ‘That’s the smell of money,’” he says.

The EPA's final decision will cost the responsible parties $342 million and will cover 177 acres of the lower Duwamish River. 960,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be dredged from the bottom of the river, and 24 acres will be capped with clean sediment to lock away contaminants below the surface of the riverbed.

SEATTLE -- King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced plans Monday to combine efforts to clean up of the Duwamish and Green River watershed.

The strategy calls for coordinating the work of governments, non-profits and businesses already involved in the clean-up.

Constantine said bringing all the players together will improve the chances that the cleanup will work, permanently.

"We can begin to get more value for each dollar, to get more clean up, to get better environmental outcomes, and economic outcomes," he said.

Ashley Ahearn / Earthfix

In a classroom at South Seattle Community College 14 local residents shimmy into hazmat suits, waving their arms like Michelin men and women. They’re part of a program run by the EPA to train people who live near Superfund sites to qualify to work on the cleanup.

Environmental Update With Ashley Ahearn

Jun 11, 2013
Flickr Photo/Tom Sparks

 From the Duwamish River cleanup efforts to coal terminals to chuckling frogs; David Hyde talks with KUOW and EarthFix reporter Ashley Ahearn about the latest in Northwest environmental news. Plus, Ahearn talks about EarthFix’s upcoming documentary, "Voices of Coal: And EarthFix Multimedia Special."

Ashley Ahearn / Earthfix

The final hearing on Wednesday regarding a cleanup plan for one of the Northwest’s most polluted rivers brought out concerns that it doesn’t do enough to protect fish, wildlife and human health.

Earthfix / Ashley Ahearn

A century’s worth of contamination in Seattle's only river is about to get a $305 million cleanup. Before finalizing a decision on the proposed plan, the Environmental Protection Agency is asking the public to weigh in.