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Ecologys ECOconnect blog

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ecology website down for maintenance on Oct 4

Our website will be unavailable for approximately two hours Saturday morning, Oct 4.

Maintenance work is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. During that time our website will not be available. All Ecology Web applications (that are hosted through Consolidated Technology Services) will also be unavailable.

Applications that will not be available include:
  • Areawide Remediation Environmental Information System (AREIS)
  • Children's Safe Product Act (CSPA) Reports
  • Cleanup Site Search
  • Cleanup Levels and Risk Calculations (CLARC)
  • Coastal Atlas
  • Columbia River Water Resources Explorer
  • Environmental Permit Handbook
  • Facility/Site Identification (F/SID) System
  • Fertilizer Database (Wastes in Commercial Fertilizers)
  • Grade Level Expectations (GLE) Correlations to Environmental Education Resources
  • Hazardous Waste Services Directory
  • Industrial Permits
  • Integrated Site Information System (ISIS)
  • Laboratory Accreditation
  • Polluted Waters - 303(d) Listing
  • Public Involvement Calendar
  • Publications and Forms
  • Recycling (1-800-RECYCLE)
  • Shoreline Aerial Photos
  • Smelter Search
  • Solid Waste Information Clearinghouse
  • Staff directory annd subject referral look up tools
  • Thermal stream surveys
  • Water Quality Permit Databases
  • Water Resources Explorer
  • Well Construction and Licensing System (WCLS)
  • Well Logs look-up

While the applications are down, you will see a server error message instead of getting access to the tool.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ocean Acidification is real

Maia Bellon, Director

Department of Ecology takes threats from ocean acidification very seriously. This is not a surprise to many, given our policy and science leadership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to understand and address ocean acidification. But local meteorologist Cliff Mass’s September 7 blog is causing some people to question just what our position is, and whether ocean acidification is real.

Let’s be clear. Ocean acidification is real. Determining the causes, impacts, and identifying potential solutions are high priorities for our agency and our state.

The basic chemistry of our oceans is changing in ways that will potentially have significant impacts on Washington’s marine life. Ocean acidification is a progressive increase in the acidity of the ocean over an extended period of time. A main cause is the absorption of human-generated carbon dioxide released into the earth’s atmosphere – primarily by fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. Acidification may be more severe in highly populated and developed areas where human activities contribute organic wastes and nutrients in marine waters.

Ocean acidification is causing changes in seawater chemistry, leading to conditions that are corrosive to organisms that use calcium carbonate to make shells, skeletons and other important body parts, such as young oysters. Washington is the country’s top producer of oysters, clams and mussels, so this is not just an environmental concern, but an economic one as well.

Cliff Mass quoted a few sentences from legal documents that misled several blog readers to believe that Ecology and EPA have determined that acidification is not damaging oysters in Puget Sound or other local waters. He misinterpreted documents filed under litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The litigation sought to require EPA to use the federal Clean Water Act to address a problem caused primarily by greenhouse gas air pollutants including carbon dioxide. Ecology concluded that the plaintiff’s evidence failed to meet the stringent test for taking specific regulatory action at this point in time. Furthermore, using the Clean Water Act may not be the best tool to regulate carbon dioxide pollution emitted into the air.

Determining that a Clean Water Act regulatory threshold has not been met is far different than determining that there is no problem.

We view ocean acidification as an urgent local and global issue. So much so, that in 2012 Washington placed Puget Sound in a regulatory category of “Waters of Concern” under our water quality listing policy.

Billions of oyster larvae have died over this past decade at Pacific Northwest hatcheries, and reproduction of wild Pacific oysters at Willapa Bay has declined. Research shows that the problem of increasing ocean acidity will worsen significantly along the Pacific Northwest coastline. The question is what can we do about it?

Our knowledge about the causes and consequences of ocean acidification in Washington’s marine waters is rapidly advancing, but some gaps remain. We support research and monitoring of ocean acidification to provide us with critical information for making future decisions. Ecology and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory together – with funding from EPA – are developing a model to help quantify the contributions of carbon dioxide emissions at both a local and global level. The acidification modeling has just begun, and we will produce the first estimates by June 2017.

Under Governor Jay Inslee’s leadership, the state is working with international, national and regional partners to advocate for aggressive reduction of air emissions of carbon pollution, including through federal and state laws that focus on carbon pollution. And several policy actions are being pursued to reduce Washington’s own carbon pollution.

Make no mistake – ocean acidification is real. The science is complex. And more research is needed to fully understand the sources, causes and impacts in different aquatic environments. We are committed to answer these questions and take action.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Around the Sound: About those oysters ...

By Seth Preston, communications manager, Toxics Cleanup Program

A worker washes oyster shells into Port Gamble Bay.
In an earlier ECOconnect post, we talked about how Ecology is teaming with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund and others to bring Olympia oysters back to Port Gamble Bay.

The Puget Sound Restoration Fund recently spread seeded oyster shells to provide a base for reviving the Olympia oyster population in the bay. The goal is to support restoration of Washington's only native oyster.

This is one piece of Ecology's work to restore and preserve the Kitsap County bay, a key cleanup area for the Toxics Cleanup Program under the Puget Sound Initiative. Port Gamble Bay and its shores, like other former and current "working waterfronts" around the Sound, are polluted from large historical industrial operations -- in this case, from a large sawmill that operated for roughly 140 years.

Up next -- bye bye, debris

Our next update will focus on work the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe is doing to remove pilings treated with toxic c
reosote at Point Julia, Martha John Estuary and other locations.

Other restoration and preservation work in Port Gamble Bay includes:
  • Studying the reasons why herring populations have slumped badly in Port Gamble Bay, as they have in other parts of the Sound.
  • Revitalizing riparian vegetation along the shores and eelgrass in the water to support fish, birds and other organisms.

Cleanup also coming

We are on target for in-water cleanup work to start in summer 2015. We're continuing to work with Pope Resources to design a cleanup of pollution caused by historical operations at the old Pope & Talbot forest products mill on the bay. The mill operated from 1853 to 1995 before closing.

Composting at the office turns would-be waste into valuable product

By Michelle Andrews, organics specialist, and Erika Holmes, communications

Food is the largest component of our garbage by weight, at 17 percent in Washington and 21 percent nationwide. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, about 40 percent of the food grown in the United States isn’t eaten. Meanwhile, about 15 percent of our population doesn’t know where their next meal will come from.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pollution Prevention Week: Product Testing

By Andrew Wineke, communications, Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction

Sept. 15-21 is Pollution Prevention Week, and we’re taking the week to explore some of the ways Ecology is working to keep our air clean, our waters pure, and our communities safe from toxic chemicals.

Today, we’re looking at Ecology’s product testing efforts.

Knowledge is power, as the saying goes. Preventing pollution is hard enough. If we had to guess where pollution was coming from, it would be even harder. So one very important part of our pollution-prevention efforts is testing consumer products.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What our Eyes Over Puget Sound saw on Sept. 16

What Eyes Over Puget Sound saw on Sept. 16

By Sandy Howard, Communication Manager, Environmental Assessment Program

Have you ever looked at water from Puget Sound under a microscope? 

You may be surprised at what you see. 

Pollution Prevention Week: Green Chemistry

By Andrew Wineke, communications, Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction

Sept. 15-21 is Pollution Prevention Week, and we’re taking the week to explore some of the ways Ecology is working to keep our air clean, our waters pure, and our communities safe from toxic chemicals.