Offices of Rep. Derek Kilmer and Rep. Marilyn Strickland announcement.
On Friday, February 25, 2022, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) and Congressman Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Co-Chairs of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, led a roundtable discussion on the impact 6PPD-quinone, the toxic chemical from tires that is killing coho salmon in the Pacific Northwest.
During the roundtable, Rep. Strickland, Rep. Kilmer, and stakeholders discussed what was learned since the discovery of the connection between tire runoff and coho salmon mortality was released and reviewed what actions have been taken so far. The group highlighted the remaining data gaps and will work to secure federal resources to enhance research efforts and strengthen stormwater infrastructure to remove 6PPD from road and highway runoff.
“Salmon nourish our streams and forests, support tribal treaty rights, feed our orcas and dozens of other species, and much more,” said Strickland. “Salmon are a keystone species and an economic engine in Washington state, providing over 16,000 jobs and delivering over $1.1 billion to local economies. There is much we still don’t know regarding 6PPD-quinone, and I am working to secure resources to enhance our scientists’ research capacity. But we know that 6PPD-quinone is killing our coho salmon, and research alone is not enough. We must do everything we can to save our salmon while protecting our environment, our culture, and our economy.”
“We know that toxic stormwater runoff is one of the biggest threats facing Puget Sound salmon recovery,” said Congressman Kilmer. “That’s why Rep. Strickland and I are working to secure federal support for critical research that will help scientists and researchers understand the link between tire debris and the health of our Sound – as well as the species that depend on it. I am grateful for the incredible partners we met with today who are working to address this issue in our region – and to Rep. Strickland’s leadership and partnership as we work to advance this urgent priority.”
The co-chairs were joined by Assistant Professor Dr. Jen McIntyre and Washington Stormwater Center Director Dr. John Stark of Washington State University, Associate Professor Dr. Ed Kolodziej of the University of Washington, Water Quality Program Manager Vince McGowan of the Washington Department of Ecology, National Resources Director for the Nisqually Indian Tribe David Troutt, Sarah Amick, Vice President Environmental, Health, Safety & Sustainability and Senior Counsel at the US Tire Manufacturers Association, Principal Scientist Julie Panko, and Penny Swanson, Environmental and Fisheries Sciences Division Director for the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center.
According to David Troutt, the Director of Natural Resources for the Nisqually Tribe, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, which in 1987 fished the Nisqually River 105 days a year, was reduced to 8 days a year in 2015. The continued decline in coho and other salmon populations has already had a devastating impact on these communities.
Biologists have observed coho salmon dying from mysterious symptoms in Pacific Northwest urban streams for decades. However, it is only in the past year after a 20-year and $5 million research effort that a team of scientists from the Center for Urban Waters and Washington Stormwater Center discovered the cause: a toxic chemical called 6PPD-quinone, created when a commonly used antiozonant in tires interacts with ozone. This chemical runs into local streams when it rains, entering the bloodstream of coho salmon and poisoning them.
Further research into 6PPD-quinone is needed to fully understand the chemical’s impact on other species and in other geographies. The full impact of 6PPD-quinone needs to be understood so that a long-lasting solution to the dangers it poses can be found.
Congresswoman Strickland and Congressman Kilmer have made environmental protection and restoration a priority. In June 2021, the House passed the PUGET SOS Act of 2021 co-led by Congresswoman Strickland and Congressman Kilmer to enhance the federal government’s role and investment in Puget Sound. This came shortly after Strickland and Kilmer secured a historic funding increase for Puget Sound restoration earlier that month from the House Appropriations Subcommittee. Both members have also engaged on the issue of 6PPD-quinone, introducing an amendment to the appropriations package and co-leading a letter to House and Senate leaders requesting inclusion of 6PPD-quinone research funding in a reconciliation bill. Strickland and Kilmer also co-chair the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus. Founded in 2013 by Congressman Derek Kilmer and former Congressman Denny Heck, the Caucus focuses on recovering Puget Sound through steps like preventing pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds.