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Case: Lower Duwamish River, WA

Latest case news:

A River Reborn: Restoring Salmon Habitat along the Duwamish River

May 2014 - Just south of Seattle, the airplane manufacturer Boeing Company has created one of the largest habitat restoration projects on the Lower Duwamish River. Boeing worked with NOAA and our partners under a Natural Resource Damage Assessment to restore habitat for fish, shorebirds, and wildlife harmed by historical industrial activities on this heavily used urban river. The restoration included reshaping the shoreline and adding 170,000 native plants and large woody debris, which provide areas where young salmon can seek refuge from predators in the river. In order to create a resting area for migrating salmon 2 acres of wetlands were also constructed. Learn about the restoration techniques used and how they will benefit the communities, fish, and wildlife of the Duwamish River.Linking to a non-federal government web site. This link does not imply endorsement.

Site history:

Chronic releases of hazardous substances following the industrialization of the waterway in the early 1900s to the present.


The Lower Duwamish River (approximately a five mile stretch), near Elliott Bay, Washington.


Case status:

  • Remedial investigations underway
  • Injury assessments underway
  • Restoration Planning Phase underway


The Duwamish River, once a wide meandering river with thousands of acres of mudflats and wetlands was channelized and narrowed through filling projects by the 1940s. The river flows through a highly industrial 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 combined sewer outfalls. Multiple cleanups are being conducted in the Lower Duwamish River by the EPA and the Washington Department of Ecology. The area of cleanup extends from Harbor Island upstream to the end of navigable waters. Resources at risk include the benthic community, flatfish, and salmon, particularly Chinook salmon and steelhead, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Contaminants of concern include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals, pesticides, and dioxins/furans.

Clean-up of the highly industrial Lower Duwamish River is being addressed through EPA led (Superfund and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) and state led programs. NOAA works within the remedial process to improve the quality and scope of assessments in the remedial investigation. NOAA provides input related to sampling plans and data interpretation of collected sediment, water, and tissue. In addition, NOAA provides input regarding impacts to trustee resources, particularly through the ecological risk assessment process. As the process moves toward the feasibility study, NOAA recommends cleanup actions that will be protective in the long term and requests long term monitoring to track cleanup progress. NOAA and the other trustees encourage coordination among EPA, responsible parties, and the trustees to identify opportunities to incorporate restoration into the remedial actions to create efficiency and get to restoration in a timely manner.

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