"The Secret Dispute Behind Cleaning Seattle’s Only River"

"In its early days as a major aircraft manufacturer, Boeing was remarkably open about toxic chemicals flowing from its factory into the neighboring Duwamish, Seattle’s only river and a longtime source of food, tradition and culture for Indigenous people.

In fact, the company described the Duwamish River as “a natural collector for Boeing’s fluid wastes” in a 1950 magazine article Boeing produced for its employees. Boeing said at the time that it had a handle on the situation — asserting, for example, that some of its most volatile waste would be neutralized by chemicals released by other polluters.   

Today the waterway is among the nation’s most contaminated, a full-scale cleanup is scheduled to begin next year, and Boeing is deep in negotiations over how to split the cost with other leading landowners on the river: the city, adjoining King County and the Port of Seattle.

As with most negotiations conducted under the nation’s Superfund cleanup law, the parties agreed long ago to keep details of their talks secret. But a short-lived lawsuit, filed by the Port last year and withdrawn in June, offered a glimpse of a staggering dollar figure that’s never been part of the public discussion."

Lulu Ramadan reports for the Seattle Times September 24, 2023.

Source: Seattle Times, 09/25/2023