Partnering with fishers to promote healthy fish consumption

“My vision for the Duwamish is a clean river, not just for my family but for all Cambodians, Vietnamese, Mexicans, and other communities that use the river.” – Soun-Hour Pov, Community Health Advocate 

Many immigrants and refugees were fishers before they came to the United States. Now living in Seattle, these fishers naturally turn to the Duwamish River – Seattle’s only river – to continue fishing. But not everything in the river is natural.

Going over safe and healthy seafood to catch along the Duwamish River.

The Duwamish River is contaminated by toxicants from a history of industrial use that made the river a hazardous waste disposal site. In early 2000s, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named the river a Superfund site, signifying it as one of the most toxic sites in the country. They then began leading the cleanup process of chemical pollution (such as PCBs). All fish, crab and shellfish that spend their entire lives in the river, however, still remain toxic to consume. Migratory salmon are one of the few exceptions as they do not reside in the polluted river sediment.

Not everyone has easy access to that knowledge. ECOSS has been working with Public Health of Seattle & King County (PHSKC) to train community members to become community health advocates who then disseminate information on healthy fishing to their .

Hear from two of the community health advocates in interviews with Voices for Clean Water.

Fishers outreach at Spokane Bridge in Seattle.

Learn more about EPA’s Fun to Catch, Toxic to Eat program!

Under this Public Health program for EPA, ECOSS hires from within the communities we serve to promote environmental justice. Working within Vietnamese, Cambodian and Latinx communities for many years, we complement PHSKC with expertise in community engagement and culturally-appropriate outreach.

Through this program, community members learn from each other and dialogue with PHSKC and EPA to protect their health while continuing fishing traditions.

Thank you PHSKC and EPA for partnering with us to help protect the health of diverse communities!

Brownfields Redevelopment Conference – October 14th

October 14, Tacoma, WA (with a pre-conference Project Funding Workshop on Oct. 13)
Brownfields Redevelopment Conference. Presented by Northwest Environmental Business Council, U.S. EPA Region 10 Brownfields Team, and Washington Department of Ecology, this conference brings together the diverse parties that need to work in concert to transform contaminated properties into economic success stories – with an agenda that emphasizes the manner in which multiple disciplines need to be integrated into a project from start to finish. The theme of “Building Sustainable Communities” responds to the growing interest by communities to rethink development models in ways that reflect sustainability principles and reduce their carbon footprints. This creates a new context for developers and increases the importance of public/private partnerships. At the same time, the conference explores how these goals must align with the economic realities of the property development marketplace. For more information visit Sponsor and Exhibit opportunities are also available.

House panel makes critical committment to Puget Sound Cleanup

Today in the other Washington, Puget Sound cleanup efforts received a 150% boost in federal funding, setting clean water among top priorities among Washington politicians.

According to an article by Les Blumenthal in the News Tribune,
“Federal funding to clean up Puget Sound would jump by 150 percent, to $50 million, under a spending bill approved Wednesday by the House interior appropriations subcommittee.

The money would be provided to the Environmental Protection Agency for use on such projects as monitoring the recovery of the Nisqually River estuary and cleaning up toxic waste in the Duwamish River, Elliot Bay and other sites near Bellingham, Anacortes and Olympia. But the EPA’s main emphasis is trying to get a handle on controlling storm-water runoff into the Sound, perhaps the single biggest problem.”

Click here for a map of Puget Sound cleanup areas.

The article continues:
“The $50 million puts the Puget Sound cleanup on par with the effort in Chesapeake Bay. The White House sought $475 million in the coming year for the effort to clean up the Great Lakes.

“Puget Sound is the second-largest estuary in the country,” Dicks said. “We need to make a significant commitment.”

The budget will now go to the House Appropriations Committee. In 2005, Governor Gregoire’s pledged to make this a national priority – let’s hope it passes!


‘Clean’ Coal on Hold?

In a reversal of a December Bush-administration memo, the Washington Post reports today that the EPA “said it would reopen the possibility of regulating carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.” With the ongoing debate about the reality behind the claims of clean coal proponents, the Obama administration opted to position themselves to reconsider the decision laid out in Stephen Johnson’s memo without directly opposing it. The New York Times predicted as much back in December, saying that Johnson’s memo left enough room for Lisa Jackson, the new Administrator of the EPA, to go through a rulemaking process to make final determinations on the issue.

Colorado Coal Miner. Photo courtesy of NIOSH - National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

Colorado Coal Miner. Photo courtesy of NIOSH - National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

While the Sierra Club heralds the rulemaking and subsequent public comment as a victory, this new position comes only days after a coal industry victory in Appalachia supporting the Army Corps of Engineers’ issuing of permits for mountaintop mining, and only weeks after AWEA reports that wind power employment had reached 85,000 in 2008, prompting some blog chatter about whether or not the wind jobs outnumber coal mining jobs.

Considering the developments in the few weeks since Obama has taken office, I am waiting to see just exactly how his administration’s commitment to “develop and deploy clean coal technology” is going to play out.