The Duwamish River is Seattle’s only river and it is home to one of the nation’s largest cleanup sites as part of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund program. The Duwamish River flows through industrial and residential neighborhoods and the cleanup will impact a broad range of people. Triangle has been helping EPA convene a “Lower Duwamish Waterway Roundtable” to bring together community, government, Tribal, and industry perspectives to help reduce some of the impacts of this major cleanup. This Roundtable will allow people most affected by the cleanup to share their ideas and feedback with EPA as the agency designs the cleanup and then enters the construction phase. The Roundtable is part of EPA’s environmental justice commitment to address the cleanup’s effects on the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods, which are home to some of Seattle’s most diverse and low-income residents.
The Roundtable held its first meeting in October 2018 and it included dozens of people from a range of backgrounds and expertise – including industry plant managers, local government staff, community leaders, and others. The group reviewed a charter for how it could collaborate across different sectors to arrive at recommendations for EPA to consider. The group also heard from EPA about technical aspects of the cleanup so that Roundtable members will be prepared to make recommendations to the agency in the future.
In the lead up to convening the Roundtable, Triangle heard from many people about the importance of community members serving on the Roundtable in order to develop recommendations that address environmental justice concerns. However, many community members cannot afford to take time off from work to serve as a volunteer on the Roundtable or other groups. To provide financial compensation to community members on the Roundtable, Triangle independently applied for and received a grant from the City of Seattle’s Duwamish River Opportunity Fund (DROF) for “Community Participation Stipends.” The Roundtable is now the only Superfund cleanup advisory group in the country that provides compensation to community members for their participation and local expertise.
As the facilitator of the Roundtable, Triangle is looking forward to working with all its members to provide the information, processes, and individualized support they need to develop meaningful feedback to EPA. Roundtable members will collaborate over the next several years to provide recommendations that address the challenges of designing and constructing a cleanup in the heart of a growing and changing city.