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Seaquist Repeats Calls for Immediate Investigation of the Puyallup River Environmental Disaster

Pierce County Executive candidate, Larry Seaquist states, “We’re still waiting for County Executive Dammeier to order an immediate, comprehensive investigation of what he calls “inexcusable environmental harm” possibly to the full 40 mile run of the Puyallup river down to Puget Sound – apparently from work done without a permit.

From a series of four reports by the Seattle Times and social media posts from former employees, it appears that there was a history of problems at the dam and an unhealthy working climate for the employees. American Rivers, a national environmental action group, recently cited this dam as the key threat to the Puyallup River which it judged to be fourth on the list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers.

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“It is not enough to issue a strong statement and order the dam removed at some time in the future.  The horse is already out of the barn — in this case, the environmental damage to the river has already happened.  We need to know why this happened and how we’ll be sure it doesn’t happen again — especially in light of prior warnings about the risks of the dam. Among the key questions is why nearly a month elapsed without public notice of an incident of this importance. We also need to know what cleanup will be needed,” Seaquist said Tuesday morning.

Seaquist calls for two comprehensive investigations:

  • How did this happen? What steps should be taken to ensure this kind of damage doesn’t happen again?
  • What is the scope of the damage to the Puyallup River and fish runs? Can the immediate damage be mitigated to reduce the impact on this year’s critical Chinook runs?  What long-range clean up will be required?

“It would be helpful for the public to see the letter the Executive sent to the company. From his official statement, it appears that the letter asserts plenary authority to order a series of mitigation steps enroute to the removal of the dam. If Mr. Dammeier has that authority, he also has the obligation to order the comprehensive investigations — perhaps undertaken in concert with the Puyallup Tribe, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the state — needed to fully understand how this happened and how we will soon see the Puyallup removed from the list of America’s most endangered rivers.”

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