East Waterway Cleanup

The East Waterway, located in Seattle, WA, is one of the most active commercial waterways in the Pacific Northwest, supporting shipping and water-based industries. Most vessel traffic consists of shipping container vessels and tugboats.

In addition, the East Waterway

Serves ecological functions as a deep-water estuary at the mouth of the Duwamish River.

Is part of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s and Suquamish Tribe’s usual and accustomed fishing area, with treaty-protected uses including a commercial fishery for salmon as well as ceremonial and subsistence uses.

Provides public fishing access to the waterway from the Spokane Street Bridge. Learn more about safe seafood consumption In the East Waterway.

The East Waterway is part of the larger Harbor Island Superfund Site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing cleanup of the East Waterway to remove and remediate historical contaminants that threaten human and environmental health. The EPA is the lead for this important cleanup project, and the East Waterway Group has been implementing site investigations to support the cleanup.

Who We Are

East Waterway Group is composed of the below organizations:

Click to enlarge

The cleanup area stretches one mile and covers 157 acres. It is located immediately downstream and north of the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site, along the east side of Harbor Island.

FAQ: About the cleanup

Why is the East Waterway being cleaned up?

The East Waterway is being cleaned up due to unacceptable risks to human health and to the environment. Sediments at the bottom of the waterway contain contaminants that include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic, dioxins/furans and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (cPAHs) that pose risk to human health. There are 29 contaminants, including PCBs and mercury, which pose risks for benthic invertebrates that are the base of the food chain. PCBs also pose risk to fish within the waterway.

What are the sources of contamination?

Most of the sediment contamination in the East Waterway is from historical releases during more than 100 years of industrial and commercial activity along and upstream of the waterway.

The Port, City and the County have spent decades reducing sources of contamination and continue to take actions in the storm water drainage system, and to control combined sewer overflows, to further reduce contamination.

What’s Next?

The public comment period on the EPA’s Proposed Plan is closed. The EPA will finalize its decision on the East Waterway cleanup after considering public comments received on the plan. The EPA will respond to public comments in a Responsiveness Summary in the anticipated Record of Decision (ROD).