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Case: Elliott Bay/Duwamish River, WA

Elliott Bay/Duwamish River site map Elliott Bay/Duwamish River site map
Date of incident:

Chronic release of hazardous substances began in approximately 1970.


The lower Duwamish River, Elliott Bay, Washington.


Case status:

There are multiple elements to the NRDA process in the Duwamish River which are at various stages of resolution. This webpage deals with the restoration actions that have occurred as a result of a settlement with the City of Seattle and the King County Municipality of Metropolitan Services. For more information about other NRDA activities in the Lower Duwamish, see Lower Duwamish website.


Elliott Bay is a 21-square kilometer urban embayment in central Puget Sound, and extends from West Point south to Alki Point and encompasses the waterfront of downtown Seattle. The major commercial district of Seattle is located on the southeastern shore of the Bay. The inner bay receives fresh water from the Duwamish River and most of the stormwater runoff from 67 square kilometers of highly developed land in metropolitan Seattle. The lower Duwamish River is a salt-wedge estuary, influenced by tidal inundation over a 12 kilometer downstream reach. Near its mouth, the river is divided by Harbor Island into the East and West Waterways, which are approximately 160 meters wide.

The Duwamish River, once a wide meandering river with thousands of acres of mudflats, was channelized and narrowed through filling projects by the 1940s. The river flows through a highly industrialized area and numerous facilities line the banks of the river. These include port facilities, manufacturing plants, chemical and solid waste recycling companies, ship repair yards, and numerous city combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The Lower Duwamish River (approximately an 8 kilometer stretch) listed on the National Priority List (NPL), is the migratory corridor for Chinook salmon in the Green River watershed. Resources at risk include flatfish, salmon and steelhead. In particular, the Chinook salmon and stealhead are listed as threatened under ESA (Endangered Species Act). Contaminants of concern include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals, pesticides, dioxins/furans.

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