Swift Creek presents an unprecedented mixture of complex scientific, geologic, environmental, economic, and sociological issues. Combined, these issues slip into a “seam between the authorities,” making them very difficult to address under the existing regime of environmental law in the United States. As recognized by Melious, as well as the former EPA Region 10 Regional Administrator, Elin Miller the presence of a “seam between authorities” that is not contemplated by existing legal solutions might actually foster the application of a creative collaborative process designed to develop and implement a permanent comprehensive sediment management solution at Swift Creek. In fact, it is quite possible that the only way to extract the issues associated with NOA at Swift Creek out of the “seam between authorities” might be to utilize collaborative decision-making to pull them from the regulatory abyss. With this in mind, this report proposes a three-phased strategy of risk communication, collaborative NEPA, and community involvement during site cleanup as a means of identifying and implementing a workable, comprehensive sediment management solution at Swift Creek. Although the facts at Swift Creek are likely to continue to evolve as natural conditions and scientific understanding of the issues slowly advance, this general framework provides an adaptable consensus-based collaborative solution to the multifaceted problems created by asbestos-containing sediment at Swift Creek.
Naftz, Douglas, "Conflict Assessment and Environmental Dispute Resolution Process Design Addressing Deposition of Naturally Occurring Asbestos at Swift Creek, Whatcom County, Washington" (2013). Environmental Dispute Resolution Program. 15.