May 5, 2010

Boeing Seattle Agrees to Retore Fish and Bird Habitat

Boeing Seattle agrees to restore Duwamish fish, bird habitat.
Boeing Seattle will restore fish habitat along the Duwamish Waterway and pay $2 million to settle allegations that decades of airplane manufacturing helped pollute the waterway with oil and other toxic substances.

By Craig Welch

Seattle Times environment reporter

Boeing will restore fish habitat along the Duwamish Waterway and pay $2 million to settle allegations that decades of airplane manufacturing helped pollute the waterway with oil and other toxic substances.

The settlement was filed Tuesday in federal court in Seattle. Boeing agreed to undertake two habitat-restoration projects to benefit salmon and other fish and birds.

Boeing plans to create nearly five acres of wetlands, restore a half-mile of waterway and establish a holding area for young out-migrating salmon. It also will demolish several buildings that were partially constructed on pilings over the waterway during the 1930s and early 1940s.

"We'll be taking the pilings out and restoring the bank," said Blythe Jameson, a spokeswoman for Boeing.

The area near the South Park Bridge is known as Plant 2, and is the site where Boeing built many of the B-17 bombers used during World War II. But solvents, oils and other chemicals polluted the property and leached into groundwater that worked its way to the Duwamish.

Boeing is required to clean up the site but has been negotiating for years with the state, federal government and two Washington tribes over precisely how and when it will do so.

Kathy Fletcher, executive director of the conservation group People for Puget Sound, said the deal sounds good, but it depends entirely on details that weren't available Tuesday.

"Boeing has been holding off on resolving these issues until they could tie the cleanup to absolving them of other liabilities," Fletcher said.

The settlement resolves claims against Boeing by several parties, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Washington state Department of Ecology, the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Suquamish Tribe and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.

Boeing agreed to repay nearly $2 million in costs to those parties and to establish a permanent stewardship fund for the projects.

The company said cleanup and restoration activities are scheduled to begin in 2012, and will take several years to complete.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.