West Seattle, Washington
“This will be a Douglas Fir forest someday” – as it was before.
Full of hope and energy, that’s what Ben Cody (above left) from the Nature Consortium told volunteers of all ages gathered this morning for a planting party at Pigeon Point Park.
He offered a quick lesson in planting, before volunteers fanned out to get 90 trees and shrubs into the ground, helping restore yet another section of the 400-acre West Duwamish Greenbelt.
The planting party was a special West Seattle highlight of the city’s Neighbor Appreciation Day – and that brought out our area’s newly elected District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold.
At left in our photo above, with the councilmember, staffers, and family members, that’s NC executive director Merica Whitehall.
While volunteers were gearing up with gloves and shovels, we talked with Whitehall about what promises to be a big year ahead for her West Seattle-based nonprofit.
Among the highlights, they’re adding two new restoration sites, one at Camp Long and one on Longfellow Creek, where restoration work parties on three consecutive Saturdays starting March 12th will be of special interest to families: They’re launching the Eco-Investigators program, in which special activities will be available for kids while their parents help with the restoration work.
Nature Consortium also is registering participants now for its weeklong spring-break camp, and for summer camp too. And if you’re looking for the next really big event to pitch in, Earth Day and Duwamish Alive! will be marked on April 16th, with NC and EarthCorps teaming up.
But before all that, today’s work was meant to help the area make more progress toward becoming a conifer forest again. As Ben had explained at the start, since the trees were removed more than a century ago, little more than deciduous trees have stood in the space, and they’re coming to the end of their lifespan. In a mixed forest, they’d simply fall and become fodder for young conifers, but without older conifers present to seed, it’s time for some help – from everybody.
Besides some conifers, today’s plantings were to include sword ferns and baldhip roses.
If you see extra equipment at the 63rd Avenue Pump Station in South Alki – King County Wastewater Treatment Division is bringing in a temporary generator truck after the station’s main electrical breaker failed. Spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson says this is not related to ongoing upgrade work, but: “Unfortunately, the generator may be noisy to the near neighbors. The good news is that we will be able to minimize its use, because it will only be needed during storms and high flows, and it looks like drier weather is in the forecast starting Saturday.” Repairs could take up to two weeks, she adds. A flyer has been sent to neighbors, with this number for questions: 206-263-9453.
This story was breaking just before other news of the day took precedence, but we did want to make note of it in case you didn’t hear elsewhere – a lawsuit over pollution in the Duwamish River. Announced by the office of City Attorney Pete Holmes this morning:
The City of Seattle is suing three “Monsanto” corporations to make them pay to remove cancer-causing chemical compounds known as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) from the City’s drainage system and the Duwamish River. Monsanto was the sole producer of PCBs in the United States from 1935 to 1979.
PCBs — found globally in bays, oceans, rivers, streams, oil and air – are an equal opportunity toxic that destroys populations of fish, birds and other animal life as well as harming human immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems.
At issue in the complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle is PCB contamination in 20,000 acres that drain to the Lower Duwamish, a federal Superfund site, and in areas that drain to the East Waterway adjacent to Harbor Island, a separate federal Superfund site. PCBs were detected in “82 percent of samples of sediment in drainage pipes” and in “73 percent of samples collected from catch basins in street right-of-ways” in Lower Duwamish drainage basins.
Here’s the full lawsuit document, provided by the CAO:
The news release continues:
If you’re thinking about a beach walk late today or tonight now that the rain’s lifted – you don’t have to worry about contaminated water along Alki Point.
Four days after the sewage-pipe leak that brought emergency repairs and beach closure south of Alki and beyond, the King County Wastewater Treatment District reports the water quality has “returned to normal” near the leak site, and that while health authorities closed Alki Beach Park itself to swimming as a precaution, its water tested at normal levels all along.
According to county spokesperson Doug Williams, the county estimates 14,200 gallons of wastewater/sewage spilled before they started work to stop and fix the leak last Friday near 63rd SW/Beach Drive SW. It was caused by a failed joint seal. After they fixed the pipe, it was buried in concrete, and now they’re restoring the landscaping by the south end of Constellation Park (a crew was still there when we went by an hour ago). The sewer line there, almost 4 feet across, pipes West Seattle wastewater to the West Point treatment plant across Elliott Bay.
12:26 PM: Not that the weather is particularly conducive to a walk/ride around Alki Point, but we did want to remind you that the sidewalk is closed and road narrowed along Beach Drive west of 63rd SW, as King County Wastewater Treatment Division continues to work on emergency sewer-pipe repairs. We first reported on the problem Friday morning; the county is fixing a leak in the “42-inch pipeline that pumps wastewater from homes and businesses in West Seattle to King County’s West Point Treatment Plant in the Magnolia neighborhood.” Some wastewater spilled into Puget Sound, so avoid contact with the water in the area until the county’s tests show it’s safe.
We have messages out to get an update on how much longer the repair work is expected to last and will update when we hear back; the county has already said crews are likely to be back next week for restoration work, once the repairs themselves are done.
1:47 PM UPDATE: We just heard back from Monica Van der Vieren at KCWTD. She tells WSB:
The leak came from a joint where a gasket seal had failed. The crews unearthed the pipe, working in the landscaped planter box area, to repair the joint, and bury it in concrete. Crews are demobilizing now for the weekend. They will leave construction fencing and signage up over the weekend as the concrete cures, and restore the landscaped area next week (hopefully Monday if plants are available).
Water quality monitoring results are not yet back, so the warning signage will remain. King County’s Environmental Lab staff sampled again today. When Public Health receives two days of sample data at background levels, they will give the all-clear to remove the signs.
At the Duwamish Longhouse tomorrow (Saturday, January 23), 1-5 pm, join in a conversation about climate:
Continue the dialogue begun at COP21 in Paris!
You are invited to join with participants from the COP21 session at La Galerie des Solutions including local activist Sarra Tekola, members of the Tulalip, Lummi, and Saanich Tribes, and keynote speaker Laurence Brahm.
Laurence Brahm is a US native who has lived in Asia for much of his life. He is a global activist, social entrepreneur, international lawyer, political-economist, crisis mediator, and author of over 20 books on Asia. He has worked on climate change with many heads of state from Bhutan to Iceland and with the Chinese government to create their new green growth national policy. He is the author of Fusion Economics, on his work with the Himalayan Consensus and the African Consensus.
The Green Party of Washington State is sponsoring the event; find the Longhouse in West Seattle, at 4705 W. Marginal Way SW.
ORIGINAL 8:53 AM REPORT: County crews are working on what they describe as a “small sewer leak” near Alki Point and have posted warning signs in the area. Just in from the Wastewater Treatment Division:
King County utility crews are working quickly this morning to repair a sewer line leak near the 63rd Avenue Pump Station, which is located at 3535 Beach Drive SW.
The small leak was detected last night in a 42-inch pipeline that pumps wastewater from homes and businesses in West Seattle to King County’s West Point Treatment Plant in the Magnolia neighborhood.
An undetermined amount of wastewater overflowed out of the pipe and into Puget Sound. To protect public health and safety, crews quickly initiated cleanup and posted warning signs to keep people away from affected areas.
Construction workers will be on site this morning to repair the pipeline. King County reported the overflow to health and regulatory agencies and will monitor water quality over the next several days.
10:37 AM UPDATE: County staffers are distributing flyers in the area, and spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson also tells us they’re now closing the sidewalk, as well as one traffic lane – in an area that’s already relatively narrow. So they’re advising avoiding the area.
5:13 PM UPDATE: Work will continue tonight and tomorrow, the county says:
King County Wastewater Treatment Division crews have begun repairs to a sewer line where a failed seal caused a leak at the 63rd Avenue Pump Station on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 21.
Earlier today, crews excavated the pipeline, identified a repair method, and are now working to contain the leak and complete work as quickly as possible. Work is expected to be completed for the night at 10 p.m., and will resume at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23.
The area is cordoned off, and warning signs are posted to keep people at a safe distance from the work area during repair activities. King County employees are monitoring water quality, and will continue to do so until the problem is resolved and water quality returns to normal condition.
We will continue to provide updates as the work to repair this pipeline continues. Please contact us if you have questions.
What to expect:
· Work will continue until 10 p.m. tonight, and resume at 7 a.m. Saturday.
· Neighbors will experience noise, and construction lights will be on site.
· While repairs are expected to be completed Saturday, some work to restore the area may continue the week of January 25.
· Vactor trucks will be on site beginning Friday, January 22, 2016.
· Drivers should watch for traffic control devices – flaggers, signs and cones – and drive slowly through the area.
· Fencing, warning signs and tape will all be used at the site to keep people safe. Please avoid the area.
(Graphic from Puget Sound Clean Air Agency website)
With another day of stagnant air, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has announced a Stage 1 burn ban for all of King County, in hopes of keeping the air quality from getting any worse. That means: “Use of fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves and inserts prohibited. Pellet stoves, EPA certified wood stoves and inserts are allowed. Outdoor burning prohibited.” Find out more here.
(WSB photo from last year’s Rainbow Girls tree-cycling event)
The West Seattle Rainbow Girls just announced they’ll have a by-donation tree-recycling dropoff again this year, on the day after New Year’s: Next, Saturday, January 2, 9 am-2 pm, in the parking lot outside the Alki Masonic Hall, 4736 40th Ave SW. Cash donations accepted. No need to cut your tree into sections – as is requested for city tree-cycling – but no tinsel or flocking, please.
In case your post-Christmas attention has turned to practical matters: The city’s window for tree recycling is a lot longer this year, as announced by Seattle Public Utilities:
Seattle residents can put their Christmas trees and holiday greens out next to their food and yard waste carts on their regular collection day at no extra charge from Dec. 26, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016. Multi-family buildings may put out one tree next to each food and yard waste cart per collection day at no extra charge during this time.
Trees should be cut into sections no longer than six feet, with branches trimmed to less than four feet to fit into the collection trucks. Sections should be bundled with string or non-plastic twine. Metal, plastic and ornaments in trees and wreaths must be removed.
Customers may continue to set out holidays greens after Jan. 31 with a fee charged for any that are outside the food and yard waste cart.
Flocked or plastic trees, or trees that have tinsel or ornaments on them, will be collected with the garbage. Customers will need to cut these trees into three-foot pieces and will be charged extra garbage fees if they are outside the garbage can.
Seattle residents can also drop off holiday trees and greens for free at Seattle Public Utilities’ South Transfer Station from Dec. 26, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016. Tree sections must be cut to eight feet or less in length and the trunk must be four inches or smaller in diameter. The limit is three trees per vehicle. Only trees and wreaths without flocking or decoration may be composted free of charge.
The South Transfer Station is in nearby South Park – here’s a map. It’s open 8 am-8 pm until January 15th; closing time changes to 5:30 pm starting January 16th.
12:56 PM: We’re in the midst of another round of “king tides” – 12.5 feet at midmorning today – and that was not only interesting to see, it also facilitated some work that needed to be done beneath the Alki seawall. Thanks to Buzz Shaw for the photos and report:
For a few weeks now, a large section of marine spill containment boom has been wrapped around the rocks on the beach and the seawall at the 1500 block of Alki Ave. Today, Seattle Parks Dept. staff used two trucks, and a front loader. and lots of effort to remove the 50+-foot long section of the containment boom from the rocks.
We’ll be asking Parks if they know whose boom it was. Removal of marine debris is vital for wildlife protection, among other things.
P.S. Re: the “king tides” – high tide is 12.5 feet again tomorrow, at 11:01 am, and remains above 12 feet at each day’s peak until dropping to 11.9 feet at 3 pm next Thursday (here’s our favorite chart).
ADDED 1:36 PM: Parks spokesperson David Takami responded to our inquiry: “Our crew looked at the boom but couldn’t find any identifying information (company or boat name). We will be disposing of the boom today, and there really aren’t any significant cleanup expenses.”
Just back from The Junction, where this was all happening at California/Alaska at noontime:
With the United Nations climate-change conference about to start in Paris, West Seattleites rallied in “encouragement” of climate action:
This was one of many rallies, small and large, planned for today.
Also on the southwest corner of the Walk-All-Ways intersection today: Wreath sellers from Pathfinder K-8. The school community makes and sells wreaths every year to raise money for environmental education and will be in The Junction every Sunday during the holiday season:
Just across the intersection, at the south end of the official Farmers’ Market zone, the Kiwanis Club of West Seattle was bubbling with enthusiasm about its annual Pancake Breakfast next Saturday.
Everyone’s invited to the Masonic Center (40th/Edmunds) 7 am-11 am on Saturday (December 5th) – if you don’t have tickets yet, buy yours for a discount online right now – $8 online, $10 at the door.
This ribbon-cutting in South Delridge celebrated a project that was two years in the making: Completion of the first raingarden/cistern project at a Seattle mosque.
The installation dedicated this past Friday at AlNoor Mosque is not just functional for reducing the runoff that goes into the combined-sewer system, it’s also a teaching tool for the students of Hope Academy, a K-8 private school that’s co-located on the grounds.
Hope Academy’s Mohamed Ahmed talked about the project:
Teachers and students are now involved in maintenance of the raingardens – there are two on the grounds.
Along with runoff reduction and environmental education, the project is expected to help with basement flooding issues at the historic brick building on the grounds of what was once St. James Lutheran Church. Those on hand to celebrate Friday included reps from the project partners at ECOSS (Environmental Coalition Of South Seattle) the King County Wastewater Treatment Division, Seattle Public Utilities, and RainWise, which continues to offer rebates for cistern and raingarden installations in certain target areas.
Our phone video is the first look at post-cleanup freedom for 13 of the birds captured at the oil-contaminated White Center stormwater-retention pond. A team from PAWS just brought them back to the area and joined state and county reps in opening the carriers and watching them go free. We first reported on the pond problem a week and a half ago; last Friday, the state announced that a WC food-manufacturing business, La Mexicana, had taken responsibility. They say the pond is now clean enough for the birds to return to it safely, but they were released this morning across the street at Steve Cox Memorial Park. As you can see in the video, all 13 brought back by PAWS this morning were mallards; crews have captured 78 in all, a mix of mallards and Canada geese. Four birds did not survive, including two that were euthanized, according to the state Ecology Department.
ADDED 2:20 PM: A few more photos and additional information about today’s release and the cleanup:
Ecology spokesperson Larry Altose says oil-recovery efforts wrapped up at the pond yesterday, as contractor National Response Corporation removed the last cleanup materials. NRC’s subcontractor Focus Wildlife captured the oiled birds and, Altose says, “housed and treated the birds at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society Wildlife Center in Lynnwood,” where, he adds, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife “supplied a bird rescue trailer to provide extra space for the effort.”
Of the 61 birds still in treatment after today’s release, he adds, 27 are mallards and 34 are geese. All four of the birds that died were mallards. A WDFW spokesperson confirmed that this is the largest bird-rescuing operation in our state in some time, in terms of spill recovery.
Meantime, as for the birds released today …
… they were last seen taking a few test flights around the field. If you see oiled or distressed birds, WDFW asks, call 800-22-BIRDS, but don’t “approach or handle the wildlife,” the state asks, adding that “WDFW asks dog and cat owners in the area to keep their pets under control, as oiled birds are less able to escape from animal attacks.”
P.S. In addition to reporting to the state, the federal EPA also tells us they are interested in information about environmental violations – here’s how to report them. (You can also call the local office directly at 206-553-8306.)
(WSB photo from Sunday)
Crews were in the vicinity again today investigating the cause of the sewer discharge in the right of way near Delridge Way SW and SW Orchard Street. They determined that the overflow was caused by two maintenance-hole covers that were not watertight. We are exploring ways of sealing the holes to prevent future overflows at the location.
Crews also found that the new Delridge combined-sewer-overflow (CSO) project construction is working as designed.
By Sunday evening (11/15), crews responded to and contained the sewage overflow. They removed warning signs once the area had been cleared, and the road was reopened to traffic. We will let you know when we have figured out how, and when, we seal the maintenance holes that caused the overflow.
The only West Seattle application of note on today’s city Land Use Information Bulletin is for 3280 SW Avalon Way. While Avalon applications tend to be for apartment buildings, not this one – it’s for the 7-11 at 35th/Avalon, which is seeking to replace three 10,000-gallon fuel tanks with two 20,000-gallon tanks. The land-use application requires an environmental determination – whether it’s “non-significant” or requires a full review – and notes that this might be your only chance to comment on the project. You can comment through November 29th; here’s how.
8:03 AM: Multiple texters report road flooding has closed Orchard at Delridge. We’ll be checking on it shortly.
10:06 AM: We’ve since learned from Seattle Public Utilities spokesperson Ingrid Goodwin that this is a sewage overflow:
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has responded this morning to a sewage overflow in West Seattle at Delridge Way SW and SW Orchard Street. The sewage is discharging north on Delridge to SW Myrtle Street and eventually overflowing into Longfellow Creek. SPU crews have posted signs alerting residents to stay out of the water, which may be contaminated. Orchard Street near Delridge Way is closed while spill response and drainage and wastewater crews contain the overflow and begin the clean-up. The volume of the spill is unknown at this time.
This is primarily happening on the east and north sides of the Delridge/Orchard intersection. You might recall that SPU worked in recent months on what was supposed to be a combined-sewer-overflow-control project, so we’ll be following up to see what went wrong.
9:36 PM: While Orchard east of Delridge was still closed in late afternoon, it’s now open, but narrowed – one lane each way, with an area blocked off at curbside on the westbound side for a short distance. No crews on scene now so we’d have to guess this will continue into the morning commute; we’ll check back by 7 am or so.
(WSB photo from last weekend, as wildlife rescuers capture an oiled Canada goose)
One week after a neighbor noticed oil contaminating a stormwater-retention pond in White Center, the state Ecology Department announced that a food company has taken responsibility. La Mexicana says it was transporting oil that accidentally spilled and will pay the costs of cleanup and wildlife rehabilitation; 51 birds have been captured for cleaning and treatment, says the state, and one had to be euthanized. Full details of the state’s announcement are on our partner site White Center Now.
(Recent Terminal 5 photo by Long Bach Nguyen, showing two ships from the Shell drilling fleet, Tor Viking and Harvey Explorer)
The Port of Seattle‘s Terminal 5 hasn’t been entirely idle since its official closure in July of last year, but the Shell ships are much smaller than what the port expects to see after its planned “modernization” program.
The original modernization plan did not include a full environmental-impact review, you might recall, but area residents pushed for one, and the port finally announced last month that it’s going to get one done because of the scale of the potential tenants it’s talking with.
Here’s where you come in: Tomorrow night, the port invites you to a meeting to focus on the scope of the environmental-impact review. And those concerned West Seattleites are hoping to have your help in shaping it.
One of them, Jim Wojciechowski, was at last night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting to make one more pitch for participation.
“Public comment is what’s going to keep the momentum going” for a project responsive to West Seattleites’ concerns, he said. Neighbors are trying to “mitigate the damages,” said Wojciechowski – noise, traffic, and air pollution are top issues. So this is the time when the port will “scope” to see what the Environmental Impact Statement should include.
Wojciechowski stressed that “it’s the public input that’s going to determine” what happens as the port uses a consultant to prepare the EIS. “They’re bringing in big ships … and they’ll be bringing in smaller ships too. They’re sitting there running their engines while they’re there for a few days,” and that’s why neighbors are “pushing for shore power.” Every major port on the West Coast is already implementing or planning for shore power, according to Wojciechowski.
He also pointed out that since Terminal 5 closed more than a year ago, it’s generating no truck traffic right now, and “everyone’s complacent.” Meantime, the potential for train “quiet zones” is something that appeals to neighbors – but it would be costly. Finally, he reminded attendees that the port is holding an “online open house” right now. As ANA president David Whiting reiterated, it’s collecting comments on what the EIS should study – what potential impacts the project might have – not comments on whether or not the modernization project should happen.
Before the meeting, we had asked port spokesperson Peter McGraw about the format of Thursday night’s meeting (5:30 pm-8:30 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy, 9131 California SW). Here’s what he provided:
Open House with stations: 5:30 – 6:00 pm
Presentation: 6:00 – 6:30 pm
Q&A (outside of comments) 6:30 – 6:45 pm
Public Comment: 6:45 – 8:00 pm – could go later if needed
Resume Open House: 8:00 – 8:30 pm
Again, the port’s official information on the process, including tomorrow night’s meeting, is here.
P.S. Separate from the official port process, T-5 neighbors also have a new online petition.
P.P.S. Our second report on the ANA meeting, on an unrelated but even more impassioned topic, is still in the works.
(WSB photo from Sunday)
On the third day of cleanup at an oil-contaminated White Center stormwater-retention pond, we’ve just obtained the newest information from state Ecology Department spokesperson Larry Altose:
Workers made progress on Saturday and Sunday, rescuing oiled waterfowl and removing oil from the pond near 13th Avenue Southwest and Southwest 100th Street in unincorporated King County.
The Washington Department of Ecology is coordinating the response, in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. Ecology has hired a spill response contractor and a wildlife rescue organization for the cleanup.
The spilled material appears to be about 50 to 100 gallons cooking oil that entered the pond via the county stormwater drainage system. County and Ecology staff have been tracing storm drains to search for the source of the spill. No additional oil has entered the lake since a citizen first reported the spill late Friday afternoon.
Cooking and other edible oils, while less toxic to wildlife, still cause environmental harm. When birds contact the oil it coats the feathers so that the animals lose insulation and buoyancy. Oil damages habitat for other aquatic life, reducing oxygen levels and creating physical impacts on the water surface and shoreline.
Crews from Focus Wildlife International have captured 14 oiled birds, four mallard ducks and 10 Canada geese. The birds received initial treatment near the scene in the organization’s special trailer. They were transported for further treatment at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society’s Wildlife Rescue Center in Lynnwood.
Workers hope to capture approximately 20 other oiled birds, some of which have flown to other ponds, lakes or fields in the area. No wildlife deaths have been reported.
Meanwhile, other workers continue to tend oil spill cleanup materials placed in the pond to collect the oil, which has spread into a slick over much of the surface. Crews succeeded in preventing oil from draining out of the pond, which flows into nearby Hicklin Lake.
The cleanup has reduced the amount of oil seen on the pond over the past two days. Ecology’s contractor will measure the amount of oil recovered in cleanup materials to better determine the size of the spill.
The on-site response effort, which involved 25 people on Saturday and 18 on Sunday, continues to step down to about 9 responders today.
Our first report, on Saturday, is here; our Sunday followup is here. As we’ve noted previously, this county-owned area of unincorporated King County had already been the subject of extensive cleanup efforts – focused on the land, rather than the water, because of problems with encampments and drug use during the non-rainy months – here’s a report from last month, published on our partner site White Center Now.
As promised, we went back this morning to the White Center stormwater-retention pond where the state and its contractors are cleaning up what’s believed to be a cooking-oil “spill” (yes, as has been pointed out, it could also have been intentional dumping) and rescuing oiled birds. The Canada goose caught while we were there late Saturday was the first bird captured for cleanup, a state Ecology Department spokesperson told us today, right before they caught a second one:
(Aside from a honk of protest, the goose didn’t resist.) Oiled feathers impair a variety of vital functions for birds, as explained here, including waterproofing and temperature regulation; we learned at the spill scene yesterday that rescued birds would be warmed on site and then transported to PAWS for rehabilitation. We expect to find out more tomorrow about where the investigation of the spill stands and how the birds are doing.
On this Green Seattle Day, the Friends of Lincoln Park led one of two West Seattle planting parties – and it was big. According to FLiP – whose Mark Ahlness shared the photo – before the day was done, 34 volunteers participated in planting 300 trees and shrubs, west and south of the north ball field, where the group’s been working much of the year. Read about how they got “green and grubby,” and see more photos, by going here.