Friday, January 29, 2010
Well, if you live in Washington, you’re in luck! Here, you can E-Cycle them! And even better, you can E-Cycle them for FREE!!! In its first year, more than 38.5 million pounds of TVs, computers, and monitors were recycled through the E-Cycle Washington program. State residents and businesses proved once again that Washington really is the ever-“green” state.
When E-Cycle Washington began on January 1, 2009, it was one of the first in the nation to collect unwanted TVs, computers and monitors for free recycling. The program is paid for by the manufacturers of these electronic products and regulated by the Department of Ecology. E-Cycle Washington has safely and responsibly recycled:
• 22.3 million pounds of televisions
• 12. 3 million pounds of monitors
• 3.9 million pounds of computers
This total of 38.5 million pounds far surpassed initial hopes and estimates of 26 million pounds. And these numbers don’t include the thousands of working units that went to reuse through sales or donations by charities such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and St. Vincent DePaul.
Electronic products contain heavy metals and chemicals at hazardous levels making them difficult to dispose of safely. For example, depending on its size, a TV's cathode ray tube contains an estimated four to eight pounds of lead. Recycling electronic products keeps toxic metals such as lead and mercury out of landfills and the environment.
Across the state, households, schools, small businesses and charities took advantage of this free-of-charge program. More than 230 collection sites and services in Washington were busy from the first day of operations. The heavily populated areas of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties were responsible for more than 64 percent of the total pounds collected.
And the energy savings from recycling rather than land-filling the computers alone (10 percent of the total volume) is equivalent to more than 690,000 gallons of gasoline.
It’s easy, convenient, and affordable to E-Cycle. Find a collection site near you, or call 1-800-RECYCLE.
See the news release, First year of Washington's electronics recycling program collects over 38 million pounds.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
High waters will be flooding our beaches for several days over February 1 to February 3. These seasonal high tides are extreme, but not unusual. What’s unusual this year is the influence of El Nino, which is leading to higher than predicted tides.
The region experienced seasonal high tides in early January. At that time, we asked you to take photos and send them in to us. We got some great shots and a few are represented here! Thank you to all of you who responded. (For more information, see the High Tides page and a slideshow of some of the photos.)
In addition to the citizen science photos you sent us, there are additional reports of the January high tides resulting in coastal flooding on Bainbridge Island (see Seattle PI story). On Camano Island, strong winds, high tides, and heavy rain sent waves crashing through bulkheads and broke through a seawall - (see KOMO news story). In West Seattle, the high tides deluged two wastewater pump stations and resulted in overflows (see West Seattle Herald story).
New Photo Opportunity!
Now we have another opportunity to document these seasonal high tides. Those of you who happen to photograph the high tide events February 1 - 3 are invited to submit your images to the Washington State Department of Ecology. We are interested in using these images to help document the coastal impacts our state is likely to face with increasing frequency as sea levels continue to rise.
In addition, if you’d like to take photos at the same location during a “normal” high tide, for comparison, we’d love to see those, too!!
High tide events will vary by location around the state. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) provides detailed information on tide heights and timing, although these can vary significantly depending on weather conditions. See NOAA tide prediction information for complete information on upcoming high-tide events around the state. The National Weather Service provides specific coastal weather conditions.
Your images can be submitted to EcologyOutreach@ecy.wa.gov, along with the date, time, and detailed location information. Please provide contact information if you'd like us to send you a release form for future publication of your photos.
And if you do take photos, please remember to practice personal safety, especially if there are high waves and winds. Your safety is more important to us than your photos!
Climate Change and Predictions of Sea Level Rise
High tides are expected to become a topic of increased importance in the coming decades as a result of sea level rise attributed to climate change. In the Olympia region, for example, we could see extreme high tide levels similar to those seen in early 2010 ten times per year by 2050 instead of just once or twice per year, based on a medium projection of 6 inches of sea level rise in 2050 for the Puget Sound region. This is expected to intensify flooding of coastal areas, especially during major storms. Rising sea levels also shift coastal beaches inland and increase erosion of coastal bluffs, endangering houses and other structures built near the shore or near the bluff edges. As the sea level rises, coastal freshwater aquifers will be subject to increased intrusion by salt water.
Understanding the future impacts from sea level rise and creating tools and information to assist local governments and the citizens of the state is a priority for Governor Gregoire and the Department of Ecology. A recent executive order signed by the Governor in May 2009 directed the agency to “evaluate the potential impacts of sea level rise on the state’s shoreline areas.”
Governor Gregoire also signed legislation in the spring of 2009 (E2SSB 5560) that included provisions for the formation of an “integrated climate change response strategy” for the state. Ecology and other state agencies will be working closely with stakeholders to develop the strategy, which will better enable state and local agencies, public and private businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals to prepare for, address, and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
For additional information and resources on sea level rise and climate change impacts, preparation, and adaptation please see Ecology's Impacts, Preparation, Adaptation Web site.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Everett Community College students are doing something cool for Puget Sound in partnership with the Department of Ecology and the Port of Everett.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Much of the Quilcene-Snow watershed, on the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula, is in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. The watershed’s location affects when, where, and how much rain and snow falls. Annual precipitation varies dramatically, from 19-100 inches. Port Townsend receives just 19 inches – which is only a few more inches than Los Angeles!
The Quilcene-Snow watershed (also known as WRIA 17) started the new year with a brand new water management rule. The rule has been years in the making, and is an important step in careful water management for that area.
Why is a water management rule needed?
There are a number of reasons. Seventy percent of the annual precipitation falls from November to April. And it is the dry summer and early fall months when water is most in demand, both by people for watering lawns and crops and also when federally-protected salmon need enough water to spawn.
The watershed has one of the highest rates of population growth in the state. This is primarily because of new people coming in, particularly retirees, drawn by the number of sunny days, mild climate and natural beauty. The population of WRIA 17 has been projected to increase 55 percent between 1996 and 2016, from about 24,000 to 38,000.
What the rule does
The rule was written to protect existing water rights and well users, support local agriculture, protect fish and other environmental resources, allow for rainwater collection, and manage new uses of water.
For management purposes, the rule breaks the watershed into 22 subbasins. Groups of subbasins with similar water conditions are managed together. The three major groupings are reserve areas, the Chimacum subbasin and coastal management areas.
In specific water-short areas, for example, a new conservation standard applies to new well uses exempt from the permitting process. Water uses throughout the watershed will be metered. New water rights may be available in certain subbasins.
Refer to the rule overview for more detail.
Planning efforts date back to 1991
The rule came out of local water planning efforts. Ecology can date its watershed planning work with local stakeholders in the Quilcene-Snow back some 20 years, to a 1991 pilot project testing the use of local watershed planning.
Planning continued under the Watershed Planning Act of 1998. The local planning unit completed a watershed plan which was approved by Jefferson County Commissioners in early 2005. Ecology's efforts at that time to move forward with a rule were suspended when Ecology officials learned the public believed the agency's involvement effort was inadequate.
Ecology restarted the rule effort in 2006. Since then, with help from contractors, the agency has hosted five public workshops, produced two videos that were aired on local TV, published nine editorial articles and held numerous meetings with the planning unit, local governments, Tribes and community groups.
Dozens of people worked tirelessly through the ups and downs of this process to get to the moment when a rule was finally adopted, with local acceptance. This included local stakeholders, Ecology staff as well as staff from the state Attorney General’s office and state Department of Fish & Wildlife. The time and effort that went into this rule illustrates the kind of commitment Ecology makes to ensure that water is managed for the needs of both people and the environment, now and into the future.
Rules managing water already exist in many watersheds around the state, and others are underway. Read about watershed planning across the state.
For more information on the Quilcene-Snow rule, contact:
Phone: (360) 407-6785
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In response to strong demand from South Puget Sound area stakeholders, Ecology has released a video on YouTube discussing the South Puget Sound Dissolved Oxygen Study.
In the video, Dr. Mindy Roberts, from Ecology’s Environmental Assessment Program, describes the sources of pollution that contribute to low dissolved oxygen, preliminary study findings, and the next steps for the project.
Excess nitrogen from wastewater treatment plants and other human and natural sources may deplete the dissolved oxygen levels in marine waters, harming fish and marine invertebrates. A damaged marine ecosystem means big trouble for Puget Sound businesses that rely on fishing and recreation.
In addition to the YouTube video, you can learn more about this study from our website, which includes links to related publications, data reports, and information on what you can do to help save South Puget Sound from the similar problems faced by Washington’s Hood Canal and the nation’s largest estuary, Chesapeake Bay.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Here are a few items that you may find interesting:
+ Sightline is running a series looking at how toxics in stormwater hurt the environment, including Puget Sound.
+ The Kitsap Sun’s Chris Dunagan talks about managing shorelines.
+ Also from the Kitsap Sun – reporter Tristan Baurick also takes a look at the work done this week on Bainbridge Island regarding the Wyckoff cleanup site.
+ John Dodge at The Olympian provides this rundown on plans to clean up the old Hardel Plywood site on Budd Inlet.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Toxics Cleanup Program
Just a short post on tonight's community meeting to talk about possible cleanup alternatives for the complex Wyckoff Eagle Harbor site.
About 50 islanders and other folks trekked through the wet woods to IslandWood to listen to and talk with cleanup experts, Ecology staff and consultants, and local Steering Committee members. Ecology brought in the experts from throughout the nation to examine the site.
They spent two days brainstorming ideas that could work for cleaning up the former wood-processing facility site.
Those ideas were discussed tonight with interested citizens.
Next up: These ideas and others will be reviewed, refined and assembled as part of a report on Wyckoff cleanup alternatives.
The report will be available in a few months, and Ecology staff expect to present it to the community in hopes of moving forward with plans to clean up and/or contain the creosote-type contaminants on the edge of Puget Sound.
By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Toxics Cleanup Program
The breakout groups are wrapping up their presentations for possible cleanup work on Bainbridge Island’s Wyckoff site. The photo shows Group 1 leader Mike Basel (center, standing) listening to questions after his presentation.
Remember, this is the site of a former wood-processing facility right on the edge of Puget Sound. Roughly 1 million gallons of creosote-type materials are present in the soil and groundwater.
The ideas will be refined a bit more and featured during a community meeting from 7 to 9 tonight at IslandWood. (See previous blog posts for meeting details.)
Here’s a quick rundown on the groups’ ideas – more details will be available at tonight’s meeting.
+ Treat the entire Wyckoff site using heat (combination of electrical heating and steam injection).
+ Install an estimated 750 thermal wells, 300 steam injection wells, 150 vapor extraction wells, and 40 multi-phase extraction wells.
+ Pros: Cleans up surface soils, eliminates the need to pump and treat water, controls leaching of contaminated water, flexible.
+ Cons: This method would take a lot of power – up to 8 megawatts if you wanted to clean up the site in 2 years. The power need would be less if you did the work over a longer time period. “Where’s the energy going to come from?” group leader Mike Basel asked rhetorically.
+ Excavate 90+ percent of contaminated soils.
+ Treat the soils on site, and replace them after they’re considered “cleaned up.”
+ Install a new south barrier wall, and upgrade existing containment features.
+ Pros: Removes most contaminated soil. Costs could be lowered depending on how much soil is dug up and treated, and other factors.
+ Cons: Some contaminated liquids would leach out. The questions are what’s in the liquid and how do you address that?
+ Use a combination of soil removal, heat treatment of soils, improve walls, capping at the site, and pumping and treating water.
+ Pros: Uses a variety of approaches.
+ Cons: Only about half of the contaminated soil would be treated.
Follow the discussions at twitter.com/wyckoffgen.
After workshop leader Kate Snider laid the groundwork, participants are now working in three breakout groups. The groups are a mix of cleanup experts, Ecology staff, consultants, and community members who act as a Steering Committee for this effort.
Here’s what they’re each supposed to produce in the next few hours:
+ A conceptual sketch showing key cleanup/containment components on a base map
+ A bulleted list of components
+ A description of what the remedy achieves and what the Wyckoff site will look like if this is done
+ An outline of what it would take to make the remedy happen
+ Other considerations, pros/cons, etc.
This afternoon, everyone will get back together to go over the three groups’ results.
Remember tonight’s community meeting – see the previous post for details.
This is just a short note as we gather to start Day 2 of discussions focusing on potential solutions for cleaning up the Wyckoff Eagle Harbor site on Bainbridge Island.
Island residents and other interested folks are welcome to participate tonight in a community meeting about the site. The discussion will center on the ideas that are emerging during the discussions this week.
The meeting is set from 7 to 9 p.m. at IslandWood. Check here for directions and keep in mind that IslandWood is literally "in the woods." While some help in finding the meeting place will be available, it's going to be pretty dark out here. You might want to bring your own flashlight. And because parking is at a premium, you should consider carpooling.
Remember, you can follow tweets from today's discussions at twitter.com/wyckoffgen. And check here to see the presentations that the experts gave on Tuesday -- click on "presentations" under the entry for Jan. 12-14.
Stay tuned ... more to come as today's small-group discussions getting rolling.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
During his presentation, Kent Udell talked more about thermal treatment methods. He expanded more on his earlier comments on how steam injection can be effective under certain circumstances and walked the group through the limitations around it.
He also talked about the positives and negatives of electrical heating and conductive heating. He concluded that he believes the best option for Wyckoff would be a combination of steam injection and conductive heating.
He cautioned that it would take a lot of energy to power this kind of remedy. And that means costs. Other sources besides hydropower could be wind or maybe even waves or tidal power. But perhaps a more realistic option could be biomass (wood, agricultural and yard waste) generated on the island.
Frank Kellogg of DCI Environmental Inc. in Savage, MN, brought us home. He advocated using a combination of removing and containing contaminated material to meet cleanup goals.
That’s it for today. On Wednesday, participants will meet in small groups to talk over specific ideas, then get back together for a large-group discussion.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, a community meeting is scheduled at IslandWood. You can hear directly from and talk with the experts about the Wyckoff site.
You also can join in the discussion at www.twitter.com/wyckoffgen. Find the experts’ presentations here, under the entry for Jan. 12-14.
Under Whatcom County’s Shoreline Master Program, this existing single-family residence on Lummi Island was allowed to expand (to the right) through an administrative conditional use permit. Whatcom County required the existing vegetative buffer area at the top of the bluff be retained.
By Gordon White, Program Manager, Ecology Shorelands & Environmental Assistance Program
Thank you to those who replied to my December 17, 2009, blog titled “Truth about ‘non-conforming’ shoreline structures.” I deeply appreciate hearing your concerns and perspectives. Our coastal, marine, river and lake shorelines help unite Washington and touch everyone. We need a healthy dialogue in order to define a shared vision for managing one of our most precious resources.
It has been about 30 years – an entire generation – since most local governments have comprehensively modernized their shoreline regulations or “shoreline master programs” to meet the needs of today’s population, growth and development conditions, and state environmental protection requirements. It’s only natural for citizens to have questions and concerns about how changes to a local shoreline program may affect their home and future development in their community.
New shoreline regulations aren’t retroactive
My Dec. 17 blog spurred some questions about existing single-family homes and whether single-family homes might be limited under any new local shoreline regulations. I want to clearly state that any new local shoreline regulations that go into effect aren’t retroactive under the state Shorelines Management Act. This means existing single-family homes can be maintained and repaired — and in many cases enlarged or expanded because they are grandfathered under the law. The only exception would be if a family’s health and well-being is at risk because their current home is located in an unstable, unsafe and hazardous location.
Whatcom County experience
For instance, Whatcom County adopted their shoreline master program in 2008 using Ecology’s new shoreline guidelines. Since then, the county has received more than 20 applications to make improvements to an existing home, including making additions and building garages. Every homeowner’s permit request was approved and issued in a timely manner.
Get involved in local efforts
Right now, more than 100 Washington towns, cities, and counties are in the process of updating their local shoreline regulations. The state Shoreline Management Act requires that as part of revising their local shoreline master program, towns, cities and counties engage their citizens and address their concerns. I sincerely encourage everyone who has an interest in shaping the future of waterfront development, uses, and protection to get involved.
For more information, including a “Frequently Asked Questions” regarding Ecology’s role in shoreline management and helping local governments modernize their shoreline master programs, please visit our Shorelines Management Web site.
Mike Basel of Haley & Aldrich Inc. in Lenexa, KS, said the goods news is that we can address the problems at Wyckoff. “It’s not easy and it’s not cheap,” he cautioned, but combining a number of cleanup and containment methods might produce the best results.
Mike and other experts have said that containing pollution will cost less over time than removing it. But there’s also more uncertainty about what could happen if you just leave the contamination in place.
Mike suggested improvements in thermal applications could produce results for Wyckoff. He noted that half of his industry’s experience in thermal applications has come in the past decade. That experience came after EPA’s test of steam injection at Wyckoff, which didn’t work too well.
Eva Davis of EPA in Ada, OK, is familiar with the Wyckoff site because she’s been involved in EPA’s work there, including that earlier test. (That’s Eva in the photo.)
Eva walked through a variety of possibilities. She said based on her experience and science she’s familiar with, she recommends using steam injection. She noted it’s working here in Washington at a Port of Ridgefield site.
Kent Udell of the University of Utah isn’t sold on steam injection. He said steam can actually bypass some of the contamination if that material isn’t volatile. But steam can do a great job of extracting contamination under some circumstances.
Join in the discussion at www.twitter.com/wyckoffgen. Find the experts’ presentations here, under the entry for Jan. 12-14.
Following a lunch break, we’re back at it at IslandWood on Bainbridge Island.
“Cousin Ken” Preston of General Construction Co. in Seattle (OK, seriously, we are not related) talked about digging up and moving the contaminated soil to a disposal site somewhere in the Northwest. Ken, a Bainbridge Island resident, says it’s doable by using cranes to dig out the material and then barge it out of here.
But it’s a big project – Ken estimates roughly 500,000 cubic yards of material weighing around 700,000 tons would be removed. At about $100 a ton for removal and transport, that adds up.
(Side note: Ken suggested that he could run a hot dog stand at the park at the old Wyckoff site. “I need a retirement plan,” he joked. )
During his discussion, Ed Hicks of Black & Veatch in Alpharetta, GA, suggested a number of ways to improve the current containment method used by EPA.
Ed also noted that Wyckoff could be an “ideal site” for doing pilot studies on emerging cleanup methods, even though Ecology is more interested in moving ahead with a remedy instead of spending time and money on studies.
More to come. Remember, you can follow and join in the discussion at www.twitter.com/wyckoffgen. And here’s where to find the experts’ presentations under the entry for Jan. 12-14.
Experts are tossing out ideas for possible cleanup and/or containment of contamination at the Wyckoff site.
You can review their presentations here. (Scroll down until you see “presentations” under the entry for Jan. 12-14.)
Here are a few highlights from the morning presentations:
Michael Kavanaugh from Malcolm Pirnie Inc. in Emeryville, CA, offered four different possible solutions. They included using heat or steam for removing some contamination; enhanced containment with some removal; improving the stabilization of the material while also enhancing containment; and essentially burning the material in place.
Ralph Baker of TerraTherm Inc. of Fitchburg, MA, recommended using a combination of two heating levels – one below the boiling point of water, the other around that point. Ralph (shown in the photo) says that will reduce some contamination, plus keeping the remaining material from moving around.
Costs of all these scenarios range widely. And there are questions about how practical they are, since power supply for heating is limited at the Wyckoff site.
Tim Nord, Ecology’s lands and aquatics lands cleanup manager, laid the groundwork before the presentations started.
Nord noted panel members are encouraged to focus on “solving the environmental problem,” without worrying about costs or regulations. Those considerations will be factored in as we move forward.
“This is a big deal to us. And the Wyckoff site is a very complicated site,” he said.
I’ll be back with more. Remember, you can follow and join in the discussion at www.twitter.com/wyckoffgen.
It's Tuesday morning. The expert panel is starting to talk about what kinds of alternatives might work to help clean up and contain contamination at the former Wyckoff wood-treating facility on Bainbridge Island.
Read here about the experts and what's going to be happening the next few days on the island.
It's no small task.
Wyckoff was one of the largest such facilities of its kind in the Northwest. Ken Preston, an expert panel member (and no relation to me), noted that many of the pilings still found around the Sound either were manufactured or were treated at the Wyckoff facility.
Right now, the byproducts of all that work -- creosote and other contamination -- amount to roughly 960,000 gallons of gunk in the ground. It's right on the edge of Puget Sound.
Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established a containment remedy at the site. This includes a containment wall and a water-treatment facility.
We're here to talk about the possibility of doing something else.
More to come ...
Friday, January 8, 2010
By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Toxics Cleanup Program
Next week, the Toxics Cleanup Program is bringing in a group of experts from throughout the nation to Bainbridge Island.
The purpose? To look at alternatives for handling the long-term challenges posed by the Wyckoff Eagle Harbor cleanup site. The former wood-processing site, on the edge of Puget Sound, is contaminated with large amounts of creosote compounds produced by historic wood-treating operations.
The photos show the site as it appears now, and what it looked like in the past.
The experts will meet Tuesday through Thursday (Jan. 12-14) at IslandWood to discuss the site. Here’s background on the Wyckoff site and our efforts around it. Plus, here’s a news release on next week’s workshops featuring the experts.
This is the first time the Toxics Cleanup Program has done something like this. We hope that the effort will be successful for the Wyckoff site, plus provide us with valuable information that we can use for other sites now and in the future.
Another first: I’m going to try blogging live from the workshops. So expect to see some reports beginning Tuesday, Jan. 12.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
The Department of Ecology (Ecology) is getting ready to improve a popular beach on the Upper Columbia River by removing industrial black slag that came from the Teck Metals (formerly Teck Cominco) smelter in Trail, B.C.
We need your help. This is a public process and we encourage you to review and comment on formal documents that will guide the removal of the slag on Black Sand Beach.
The documents include a draft work plan and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) documents ensuring that the work is beneficial to the environment. Comments will be accepted Jan. 4 through Feb. 5, 2010 (see contact information below).
A public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010, at the Northport High School, 408 10th St. in Northport. Ecology and Teck American Inc. (Teck) in Spokane will describe the project and answer questions from the public.
Ecology and Teck signed an agreement last July to remove slag from Black Sand Beach. The beach encompasses about one acre, three miles south of the Canadian border on the east side of the river north of Northport.
In the fall of 2010, approximately 5,000 cubic yards of granulated slag will be removed and transported for recycling to Teck’s Trail smelter facility. Teck has agreed to remove and recycle the slag to prevent the material from eroding further into the river water.
Teck will place clean, natural fill material where contaminated sediments were removed. The industrial slag contains hazardous substances including zinc, lead, copper, arsenic, cadmium and other metals that cannot be removed from normal processing. Some of the metals harm the health of the river and aquatic life.
The public can see the documents for the slag removal at the Department of Ecology’s office in Spokane at 4601 N. Monroe St. by calling Kari Johnson at 509-329-3415, or on-line. They also are available at the Northport Community Library, the Kettle Falls Public Library and the Colville Public Library.
For more information, see the news release.
Comments and technical questions should go to Chuck Gruenenfelder, 509-329-3439; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Please note: per Ecology's blog policy, comments posted on EcoConnect are not considered official public comment on this issue. Use the contact information above to submit official public comment. Thank you.