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Boeing To Pay $2 Million Settlement, Restore Fish Habitat

Wed, 05/05/2010 - 4:56am

SEATTLE (AP) — The Boeing Co. has agreed to restore fish habitat in Seattle's Duwamish Waterway and pay $2 million to settle federal charges that it broke environmental laws by dumping oil and other toxic substances.

The settlement was filed Tuesday in federal court in Seattle. Boeing agreed to undertake two habitat restoration projects to benefit migrating juvenile salmon and other fish and birds.

The projects will cover more than one-half mile of waterway, create nearly five acres of intertidal wetlands and establish a rest area for migrating fish.

The settlement resolves claims against Boeing by several parties, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Interior, the Washington state Department of Ecology, the Suquamish Tribe and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.

Investigations by those parties have found over 30 hazardous substances in the marine sediments of the Duwamish, including arsenic, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The parties' complaint alleged that hazardous substances released from Boeing facilities have damaged fish, shellfish, birds and other natural resources and sought recovery for the environmental losses.

Boeing denied the allegations but agreed to the environmental cleanup and habitat restoration.

"We are committed to restoring habitat along the Duwamish and conducting environmental work that is vital to the ecosystem, nearby wetlands, the Puget Sound and to our community," Mary Armstrong, Boeing vice president of environment, health and safety, said in a statement.

The company agreed to repay nearly $2 million in costs to those parties and to establish a permanent stewardship fund for the projects.

Boeing said cleanup and restoration activities are scheduled to begin in 2012, and will take several years to complete. The project will involve digging up more than 100,000 cubic yards of sediment and replacing it with clean sand.

"Both projects will create new intertidal, marsh and riparian habitat, which will largely benefit juvenile Chinook salmon, a fishery that relies on these areas during a critical period in their life cycles when they are adapting to marine salinity," said Lois Schiffer, general counsel of NOAA.

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