Submitted by Larry Seaquist, Candidate for Pierce County Executive Campaign.
Larry Seaquist, candidate for Pierce County Executive, calls on incumbent Bruce Dammeier to investigate a dam construction project that discharged unpermitted astroturf material into the Puyallup River. “The Pierce County Executive must conduct an immediate investigation of the “rubber river” environmental disaster,” said Seaquist.
Seaquist was alerted by a report in the Seattle Times this past Friday of the contamination a month ago of the entire Puyallup River from the Electron power plant and dam in South Central Pierce County all the way to Commencement Bay and the Puget Sound.
The news account — written a month after the incident — describes a massive, 40-mile long cleanup problem, immediate risks to this year’s Chinook run, and a potential long term impact on the Puyallup River.
“This must be investigated,” insists Seaquist. “In addition to the Puyallup Tribe’s sovereign interests over the health of the river, there are a number of agencies involved. The Pierce County Executive should take the lead in chartering an immediate and thorough investigation to answer key questions. We need to know what happened? Why? Who was responsible? Were there regulatory or other failures? And critically, how do we make sure this does not happen again?
As reported in the Seattle Times last week, on July 29th, rubber debris from a project at the Electron dam, near Orting, flowed into the Puyallup River and eventually into Puget Sound. The debris was not reported until August 4th. The greatest concern is that the unpermitted discharge of over 600 cubic yards of rubber-like material occurred just weeks before the arrival of the endangered Chinook Salmon returning to their homes.
Seaquist calls on the County Executive to take the lead in chartering an immediate, formal public investigation led by a competent, independent expert assisted by technical and administrative staff and authorized to get at the truth wherever the investigation leads. “Like all investigations where the public interest is involved,” said Seaquist, “the investigation must be conducted in the open. This appears to require urgent cleanup action, and it is imperative that the investigation proceeds rapidly.”
“The Puyallup River, one of the jewels of our Pierce County heritage has been damaged — maybe permanently,” said Seaquist. “We must find out what happened and why; we need to know very soon that it can’t happen again.”