EPA boosts required cleanup budget for Duwamish River Superfund site

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued its long-awaited final decision about the extent of cleanup that will be required at the Duwamish River Superfund site — the biggest toxic waste site in Seattle.

Details are still emerging and the agency is conducting a news media briefing this hour. But it's clear that EPA has boosted cleanup requirements from the tentative plan the agency issued last year: The pricetag has gone from $305 million to $342 million. That's to be spent over seven years of active cleanup and 10 years of "natural recovery" that involves allowing sand, dirt and mud washed down the river to cover what the agency describes as low levels of contamination on portions of the river bottom.

The Boeing Co., King County, the city of Seattle and the Port of Seattle all lobbied to hold down cleanup costs, as InvestigateWest reported last month. Environmentalists, community groups and others banded together as the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition have pressed for a plan that would cost substantially more and would call for all the contaminated river bottom to be dug out and hauled away. That plan would have cost about $500 million.