Puget Sound Clean Air Agency inspectors last week told a Georgetown recycling plant it has to control irritating particles and visible fumes that neighbors say have affected them since late January.
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) inspectors last week told a Georgetown recycling plant it has to control irritating particles and visible fumes that neighbors say have affected them since late January.
The directive instructs the CDL Recycle facility to “submit a dust control plan within 30 days that identifies sources of dust on the site and mitigation measures.”
Residents near East Marginal Way South and Ellis Avenue South in Georgetown for months have reported burning eyes and sinuses, cars thinly layered with dust, and a metallic taste in the air, among other concerns, resident Kelly Welker said.
“It definitely is this mist that has a taste and a smell,” said Welker, who has lived in the neighborhood for nine years. “Sometimes it tastes like metal-y plastic … and then sometimes it tastes like drywall.”
Most Read Local Stories
- They were driven from their land in 1877 by U.S. soldiers. Now the Nez Perce tribe is home again.
- The 'fifth wave' of COVID-19 is here. What you should know about the delta variant and masking
- This COVID sequel is maddening. Time to flip the script and up the pressure on the unvaccinated.
- King County has quickly bought 7 hotels for homeless people, but will it be enough?
- Coronavirus daily news updates, July 31: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world
Welker and other neighbors pointed to CDL Recycle as the source of the issues. The center recycles construction and demolition materials, such as concrete, plastics, metals and cardboard, according to its website. Officials with CDL Recycle did not respond to requests to be interviewed.
Complaints about the issue date back to last fall, but picked up steam in late January when Welker began reaching out to other neighbors. They complained at Georgetown Community Council meetings as the problem worsened through February, but didn’t discover what they say is the source of the pollution until March. Then, Welker sent complaints to city agencies.
In April, she created a Facebook group to record instances when particles were irritating or visible near the neighborhood.
CDL has tried to address the issue.
The company installed misting systems to help knock down dust particles, said Joanne Todd, communications manager for Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
It isn’t clear whether that helped, or added to the problem.
“It can be a matter of how they’re installed or which angle they’re put in,” Todd said.
The PSCAA directive ordered the recycling facility to set up a contact for residents to voice their concerns.
“As you continue to improve, consult with neighbors to ensure these changes are better and not worse for them,” the order, issued Wednesday, states. PSCAA plans to document any mist carried off-site.
The agency is working with other organizations, such as Public Health – Seattle & King County and Seattle Public Utilities, to examine the neighborhood air quality and the CDL Recycle operations.
Recently, Seattle Public Utilities told CDL it must spray the tires of trucks to rid them of any material before leaving the facility, Todd said. PSCAA also placed a monitor on Welker’s property to gather more air-quality data.
Julie Johnson, 41, a neighbor of Welker’s, said more suppressive measures need to be taken.
“Don’t write off Georgetown,” Johnson said. “Just because we live in an industrial pocket doesn’t mean we deserve to breathe unclean air.”
Georgetown has long suffered from pollution issues.
The quality of air there is significantly different from that in other areas of Seattle. A 2013 study funded by the Environmental Protection Agency found that people who live in ZIP code 98108 — which includes Georgetown, South Park and parts of Beacon Hill — are more likely to get sick from environmental issues like pollution.
For residents in Georgetown and South Park, these stresses go so far as to decrease life expectancy. People in those areas live eight years less than other Seattle and King County residents on average, according to the study.
Welker said she is aware of these issues, but notes that what is happening now stands on its own.
“It’s always been a little dusty … but nothing to the extent where my sinuses and eyes were burning,” Welker said. “That shouldn’t be allowed.”