The Voice for Industry
|March 19, 2009|
They Do It Right
We don't always agree with the actions or policies of the City of Seattle. Writing our eBulletin wouldn't be nearly as much fun if we did. But when the blue moon rises to shine on the City doing something right, we need to let you know. Such is the case with the City of Seattle's Duwamish Habitat Restoration Program associated with the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund site.
Today's industrial business owners and operators have a much better understanding of how past practices negatively impacted our natural environment and the Duwamish in particular. After all, they grew up with Earth Day too. Many acknowledge their opportunity to be an "everyday" environmentalist and conduct business on the Duwamish much differently then their predecessors.
The bad thing is, the federal Superfund legislation does not give you credit for good behavior today. It punishes you for what was done, possibly, before you even came along by imposing liability for past practices on today's generation, regardless of operating practices today. "The sins of the father are visited on the son," was never truer then it is under a Superfund action.
Past practices of the city utility department have caught up with the City of Seattle too. Indeed, the City of Seattle is one of the largest designated responsible parties engaged in clean up of the Duwamish Waterway. The City could have put their heads down and plowed through the inter-governmental maze of regulatory compliance with federal EPA and state Ecology, never minding what was going on around them. In this instance, however, the City looked up and took a larger view of the impacts of the clean up and restoration for the community. In particular, the maritime community.
The industrial maritime community has proven to be one of the jewels of the City's economic vitality. With so few miles of City shoreline designated for industrial use, the Waterway, and the businesses operating along its shores, are rare. With the Mayor's guidance, the City Council recognized the need to find ways to help the private sector weather the process so that we come out at the other end with businesses that are still intact and still operating along the Lower Duwamish. What they did was make scattered, un-used City-owned public lands available for a use that creates a win-win for businesses who "catch a break" and the natural environment that has no say in the matter.
On June 30, 2008, the City Council unanimously passed an ordinance authorizing a "Master Lease Agreement" with a private, habitat restoration organization, Bluefield Holdings. A Superfund action involves both a cleanup and a restoration phase.
Responsible parties identified with Superfund liability will ultimately have responsibility for creating natural habitat restoration projects as part of their Superfund liability. They may not have sufficient, or any, shoreline to set aside for this passive use and undoubtedly do not have the expertise to do these habitat projects on their own.
The Master Lease Agreement allows Bluefield to "consolidate" the City-owned properties along the Lower Duwamish, like street-ends and bridge landings, to create and, more importantly, maintain new natural habitat along the waterway. The Superfund process requires restoration projects with a life-span of at least 10 years. The city-owned properties along the Waterway can be developed without interfering with maritime and other public uses for the shoreline, as well.
Development of these city properties will result in "ecocredits" toward the restoration phase, already negotiated and approved by the regulators. The ecocredits will be sold to the businesses and property owners with Superfund liability. This probably isn't enough habitat to meet all of the restoration requirements for the Duwamish, but for small and medium sized businesses, use of these ecocredits give them a "guaranteed" means of meeting their obligation once and for all so that they can get back to the business of moving goods, creating value and providing good jobs for this community.
We think, that's a much better use of their resources then years-long litigation or habitat "garden-tending."
The bitter pill of being identified as a responsible party in a Superfund action is a hard one to swallow for any business.
Rather then ignore or vilify these businesses as some would have them; the City's actions acknowledge their value and help create an end-in-sight opportunity. Sometimes they do things right - the City of Seattle that is. This is one of those times.
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Thursday, March 19, at 4:40 p.m., up to 1,500 Seattle Sounders fans will gather for speeches in Occidental Park and then "March to the Match" to celebrate the start of the Sounders' season. Escorteed by police, the fans will head south on Occidental Ave S from Main St to Qwest Field.
The opening match kicks off at 6 p.m. with up to 34,000 spectators on hand. Occidental Ave S will be closed between S King St and S Royal Brougham Way from 4:30 - 9 p.m. Count on traffic congestion before and after the match
Viaduct will be closed THIS
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