NOAA and Trustees seeking comment on Lower Duwamish Natural Resources Injury Assessment Plan

A boat navigates the Lower Duwamish River with industrial development on both sides of the river's banks.

NOAA and Trustees seeking comment on Lower Duwamish Natural Resources Injury Assessment Plan

July 31, 2018

NOAA and the other Elliot Bay Trustees conducting the Lower Duwamish Natural Resources Damage Assessment, have announced a 30-day comment period for the Lower Duwamish Natural Resources Injury Assessment Plan (PDF, 79 pg). The area includes three Superfund sites, the Lower Duwamish Waterway, Harbor Island, and Lockheed West Seattle, in Washington State.

At this time, the Elliott Bay Trustees are identifying ways to assess ecological injuries to habitat in the area, and loss of recreational use and and tribal services using a variety of approaches outlined in the Injury Assessment Plan.

Approaches include potential studies that will assist the Trustees in identifying and implementing restoration projects to compensate for those injuries. The studies will focus on species like shellfish and other invertebrates, forage fish, bottom-dwelling fish, and salmon.

The Injury Assessment Plan is a part of the Trustees’ evaluation and restoration of natural resource injuries incurred over time in areas contaminated with hazardous substances such as PCBs, PAHs, metals and other substances.  

The Injury Assessment Plan provides an update on the status of the natural resource damage assessment, information regarding the trustees’ emphasis on specific natural resources and hazardous substances, methods and metrics for quantifying contaminant-related injuries, and the specific studies the trustees have identified to support the damage assessment. The trustees will consider the public comments received, and will release a final injury assessment plan by late 2018 or 2019.

The Duwamish River was once a wide, meandering river with large areas of mudflats and marshes. By the 1940s, channelization and filling had transformed the 9-mile estuary into a 5-mile industrial waterway. This process destroyed 97 percent of the original habitat.

The Lower Duwamish River is still highly developed, with many industrial and commercial facilities lining its banks. Hazardous substances have been released since the early 1900s, resulting in injuries to fish, birds, wildlife, and their habitats, and loss of recreational uses, like fishing.

Comments on the Injury Assessment Plan should be emailed to Rebecca.Hoff@noaa.gov with the subject line: “Comments on Lower Duwamish River Natural Resource Damage Assessment: Injury Assessment Plan” no later than August 30, 2018. Comments may also be mailed to: Rebecca Hoff of NOAA Western Region Center, 7600 Sand Point Way Building 1, Seattle, WA 98118.