Thursday, November 10, 2011

Around the Sound: Creosote stains the Sound

By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Toxics Cleanup Program

For decades, creosote was used for coating wood pilings for docks and other structures built in and over Puget Sound waters.

While many of those structures have deteriorated or fallen into disrepair, the chemicals from creosote-treated materials continue to leach into the Sound’s water and sediments and onto its beaches.

Ecology removes creosote and treated materials at various cleanup sites. For example, the photo above shows old pilings at the former Scott Paper Mill site on the Fidalgo Bay shore in Anacortes. The pilings were taken out as part of that cleanup project, described here in an earlier “Around the Sound” post.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also has a creosote-removal program.

Recently, two news stories looked at creosote’s impacts on Puget Sound.

The first is this KING-TV piece on the creosote compounds capped on the bottom of Eagle Harbor at Bainbridge Island. The in-water area is part of the larger Wyckoff federal Superfund cleanup site. Ecology also is involved in the cleanup, and we’re working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to find a more permanent cleanup remedy for Wyckoff.

The former Wyckoff wood-processing site, on the edge of Puget Sound, contaminated the area with large amounts of creosote compounds produced by historic wood-treating operations.

The second story, published by The Herald in Everett, looked at the impacts of creosote on the Sound as outlined in Ecology’s new Puget Sound Toxics Assessment. Last week’s “Around the Sound” post focused on that study.

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