Port Of Seattle: Praise a good call

Last updated September 12, 2007 4:22 p.m. PT

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD

A story published in Monday’s Seattle P-I drew much attention to the Port of Seattle’s plan to dump mud contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (or PCB, fire retardants banned since the 1970s) into Elliott Bay.

In a mildly ironic twist, the contaminated mud comes from a sediment-dredging project in an area designated as a Superfund cleanup site by the federal government. Several of the sites contaminated by hazardous waste have been targeted for cleanup in 10 U.S. regions.

Environmental groups here already had criticized the plan, arguing that the standards set by the state Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for what can be dumped don’t cover all bases (for example, what becomes of mammals who eat contaminated fish?). They recommended that most of that mud be landfilled.

Maybe it was the story itself, the public outcry or the fact that it’s an election year, but for one or a combination of those reasons, the port came to its senses and on Tuesday, decided to work on a plan to direct the waste to a landfill instead.

Um, good call.

We were encouraged to hear commission President John Creighton say, “We need to leave the waterways better than we found them.”

The potentially higher upfront costs (in this case, less than 1 percent of the project’s overall costs) associated with surpassing environmental requirements shouldn’t prevent port commissioners from aiming at higher standards.

~ by fredfelleman on September 12, 2007.

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