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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Air Time: Why all the fuss about wood smoke?

By Rod Tinnemore, Wood Stove Coordinator, Air Quality Program

Ah, the smell of wood smoke. It brings back memories of camp fires and family holiday gatherings for some. For others, it brings memories of trips to the hospital, of lungs burning for air and the sensation of drowning. But humanity has lived with fires for untold centuries so wood smoke must be “natural” and “healthy,” right?Arsenic and mercury are also naturally occurring, but they can be far from harmless.

The issue with wood smoke is not the smell; it’s the tiny particles in the smoke.These very small particles are at least 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair.As you breathe smoke, these particles go deeply into your lungs and some even enter your blood stream.They are coated with compounds that came from whatever was burned.The more poorly the wood is burned, the greater the number of harmful compounds.These put a stress on both your heart and lungs. And if you have a disease such as Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes, your inflammation and distress increases.

So if wood smoke is bad stuff, how come we’re not all dead?That’s another error in thinking.Not everything that is bad will kill you quickly.Through most of human history, people have died from causes other than air pollution because populations were smaller and other diseases caused people to die much younger. However, with life expectancies now near or above 80 years old, an increasing number of people are experiencing the long-term effects of air pollution.According to a recent European report, urban air pollution will soon become the biggest cause of premature death.

What if you don’t care about these health concerns? Well, do you have a child or an elderly parent in your home or your neighborhood?They are especially affected.What about a friend or neighbor with asthma or type I diabetes?If any of these apply, then please be concerned about how your actions affect the health of others.Sometimes people tell me, “What I do in my own home is my business!” If only your smoke also stayed inside your own home, I’d be inclined to agree with you. But we all know that is not the case.

The bottom line: Keep wood burning to a minimum, with the right fuel and the right stove settings to reduce wood smoke pollution.We’ll talk more about how to do that in my next blog.

For more information, see Wood Stoves, Fireplaces, Pellet Stoves and Masonry Heaters

Fecal Matters: The Beaches at Dickman Mill Park & Jack Hyde Park in Tacoma are Open for Water Recreation

BEACH Program Update


Yesterday, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department opened the beaches at Dickman Mill Park and Jack Hyde Park on Ruston Way in Tacoma.  Water sampling results collected Monday, November 26th indicate low levels of bacteria. Beach closure signs were previously posted on November 20, 2012.

Visit the BEACH web site to find the latest results for these and other saltwater beaches: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Julie Lowe is the BEACH Program Manager and can be reached at julie.lowe@ecy.wa.gov


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fecal Matters: No Contact Advisory at Annapolis Public Beach, Kitsap County

BEACH Program Update

On November 19, 2012, the Kitsap County Health District issued a no-contact advisory at Annapolis Public Beach near Annapolis, WA due to a wastewater discharge that received primary treatment and disinfection, but bypassed secondary treatment. The wastewater treatment plant experienced a large amount of inflow from the recent rain resulting in this discharge. Kitsap Health District staff posted warning signs at public beaches and public access points in the area. The public is advised to avoid contact with the water and not harvest shellfish.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Julie Lowe is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6543 or julie.lowe@ecy.wa.gov for questions.

Fecal Matters: Combined Sewer Overflow Impacts Dyes Inlet, Port Washington Narrows and Sinclair Inlet, Kitsap County

BEACH Program Update

On November 19, 2012, combined sewer overflows of more than 100,000 gallons discharged into Port Washington and Sinclair Inlet. CSOs are a mixture of untreated sewage and storm water. As a result, the Kitsap County Health District issued a seven-day no contact advisory for all of Dyes Inlet, Port Washington Narrows, and Sinclair Inlet. Health District staff posted warning signs at public access areas and public beaches in the area. The public is advised to avoid contact with the water and not harvest shellfish.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Julie Lowe is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6543 or julie.lowe@ecy.wa.gov for questions.

Fecal Matters: City of Everett Sewage Spill and Combined Sewer Overflows

BEACH Program Update

On November 19, 2012, a City of Everett wastewater treatment outfall released an unknown volume of raw sewage near Forest Park due to heavy rainfall. The city is collecting water quality samples in the area and posting emergency signage to warn the public about this incident.

Today, the City of Everett experienced several combined sewer overflows (CSOs), notably a few near Jetty Island due to higher than normal rainfall amount. For specific locations of the discharge areas and current CSO status, please go to: http://www.everettwa.org/CSOMap/CSOMap.aspx

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Julie Lowe is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6543 or julie.lowe@ecy.wa.gov for questions.


Fecal Matters: Beach Closure at Jack Hyde Park and Dickman Mill Park, Tacoma, WA

BEACH Program Update

Today, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department issued a beach closure at Jack Hyde Park and Dickman Mill Park, on Ruston Way in Tacoma, WA. Advisory signs were posted this morning due to sewage spill into Commencement Bay.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Julie Lowe is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6543 or julie.lowe@ecy.wa.gov for questions.


Fecal Matters: Water Recreation Safety Tips During Heavy Rains!

BEACH Program Update

Attention beach goers! Some of you hard core Pacific North westerners may be hitting the water for some fun in the rain this holiday week. If you’re hearty and daring enough to endure the weather please remember a few health and safety concerns:

Heavy rains typically raise the amount of bacteria in water bodies, so be careful when you go near potential sources — such as sewage treatment plant outfalls, stormwater outfalls, and agricultural centers.

When the Pacific Northwest is being inundated with rain and wind, the BEACH Program receives many calls about sewage spills, combined sewer overflows, and problems at wastewater treatment plants during heavy rains. This weather can put a damper on outdoor fun, and it also overwhelms our wastewater treatment systems.

Keep in mind that some overflows, sewage spills, and combined sewer overflows aren’t reported soon enough to warn people, so be careful in areas that may be affected. Stay safe and dry and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Looking for more information about the BEACH Program? www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog

Fecal Matters
, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Julie Lowe is the BEACH Program Manager and can be reached at julie.lowe@ecy.wa.gov


Monday, November 19, 2012

Boots on the Ground: Unexpected service in New York

First person accounts by WCC responders
compiled by Bridget Mason and Janna Sargent, Ecology Washington Conservation Corps



WCC Supervisors provide updates via smart phones and Skype™

A gymnasium at Lehman College serves as a makeshift shelter for displaced residents
A gymnasium serves as a makeshift shelter for displaced residents at Lehman College inBronx, NY

The nor'easter that hit New York after Hurricane Sandy
Nor'easter dumps snow andadds new challenges for responders


AmeriCorps members serve food and coffee to evacuees.
Eight Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crews recently drove across country to the East Coast to respond to Hurricane Sandy.

A total of 40 AmeriCorps members and eight supervisors are currently in New York where they are assisting with shelter operations in the New York City Boroughs of Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. In the past few weeks, we have seen them featured in newspapers and interviewed on the radio.

WCC often on the front lines

In recent years, the WCC has responded to disasters across the county, including tornadoes, floods, wildfires, as well as other hurricanes. Often, it is difficult to receive regular updates from our responders due to lack of power, downed cell towers, and the hectic nature of disaster response.

Smart phones keep us linked

This is the first incident where the majority of our responders have smart phones, enabling more frequent updates – requiring ample patience on their part while drafting multi-paragraph summaries on a 3-inch screen.

We recently received the following updates from several of our responders requesting anonymity and to receive no special recognition, adding, “All of the responders here are working very hard.”

Daily grind of shelter operations

Up to 600 displaced New Yorkers are currently sheltered at Queens College. There are 41 AmeriCorps volunteers supporting them including the WCC, Montana Conservation Corps, and Minnesota Conservation Corps. These volunteers are responsible for operating the family and pet shelters. This means rather than the physical cleanup assignments that our members were expecting when leaving Washington, they are working directly with displaced residents of New York. Their daily tasks include:
  • Cleaning at the shelter
  • Serving meals
  • Helping children get to school
  • Clothing people
  • Finding answers, occasionally finding translators
  • Sharing stories with shelter residents
  • Loading and unloading trucks and sorting donations
  • Helping elderly residents with day-to-day needs
  • Constructing cots, cribs, and assembling toys
  • Entertaining children
  • Defusing volatile situations

Election Day at a shelter

To add to the commotion, Election Day presented its own challenges. The day was fast approaching and evacuees did not know how or where to vote.

AmeriCorps volunteers took on the challenge of researching and publicizing the revised voting policy for evacuees and helping them find the nearest polling site. After some effort, we managed to connect a laptop to a monitor and stream live election results while the entire family shelter gathered to watch the results. It was an electric day and night.

The American right of voting, that secures all other rights, was salvaged that day in the shelter.

Other challenges

Another opportunity for creative problem-solving presented itself when a “nor’easter” hit New York on Nov. 7. A refrigerator that had been storing food for 150 people suddenly ceased working, resulting in spoiled food.

Volunteers used their phones to reach out for help from local churches, non-profits, and businesses. Three hours later, a call came from PC Richards and Sons letting us know that, despite the blizzard, they were bringing us a brand new 21 cubic foot refrigerator

Staying positive

WCC members and supervisors are staying positive and, often times, fighting just to stay awake, despite the work being mentally and emotionally challenging. The night shift has been especially taxing since this means our few sleeping hours happen when all other shelter residents are awake. Many of us await the call requesting assistance with debris cleanup.

Running chainsaws, mucking out houses, and clearing debris sounds easy at this point!

Washington proud

In the meantime, our members are doing an excellent job representing the Washington Conservation Corps and AmeriCorps. The logo on their uniforms has become a powerful symbol – both as an all-access pass to get through multiple levels of security and a sign of their responsibility.

A popular saying is that the AmeriCorps ‘A’ stands for answers. When evacuees see the A on our shirts, it means they can ask for help and they will be heard.

Read more about them!

On Nov. 9, the New York Times wrote a story about what AmeriCorps, including the WCC, are doing in response to Sandy.

On October 31, the Department of Ecology issued a News Release as WCC crews deployed from Ellensburg, Washington.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fecal Matters: Richey Viewpoint Beach in West Seattle is Open for Water Recreation!

BEACH Program Update


Today, the Seattle-King County Public Health District opened the beach at Richey Viewpoint in West Seattle.  Beach closure signs were previously posted on October 31, 2012, due to a nearby sewage spill.

Visit the BEACH web site to find the latest results for these and other saltwater beaches: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Julie Lowe is the BEACH Program Manager and can be reached at julie.lowe@ecy.wa.gov


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Around the Sound: Work underway at the Rayonier Mill cleanup site

By Marian Abbett, Site Manager, Toxics Cleanup Program

Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed activity on the Rayonier Mill site. The City of Port Angeles (city) and Rayonier have begun work on the part of the city’s CSO project on the mill property.

About one mile of CSO pipeline trenches will be on the former mill property. Some soil and groundwater the city is finding on the former mill property is contaminated, so the city and Rayonier are following special practices to manage contaminated and potentially-contaminated materials when they are found.

To give you an idea of what’s going on behind the fences, here are some photos of the work:

1) The city is digging the pipeline trench you can see on the left side of this photo. The new CSO project pipes, which will go in the deepest area, are on the right.

On the far left you can also see a silt fence. The city is using it to control erosion around the work site. This silt fence surrounds an area identified as a wetland.

2) The city and Rayonier are over-excavating to remove visibly contaminated soil found during construction. In this photo you can see an area where the city found soil contaminated with total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH).

The deep flat area is the pipeline trench. The area where soil has been dug away below and behind the pipeline trench is where the city found the TPH-contaminated soil.

The water in the hole is exposed groundwater, which will be pumped out and treated.

3) Contaminated and potentially contaminated groundwater is being treated on-site. It is pumped into a temporary storage tank (Baker tank). First, particles are allowed to settle out. Then the water passes through a sand filter that removes smaller particles. Then it goes through a carbon unit to remove organics. Finally, the water is discharged to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

4) The city is placing visibly contaminated soil in roll-off bins. Rayonier is disposing of this soil at landfills or recycling facilities that can take these types of wastes.

5) Rayonier is temporarily keeping potentially contaminated soil in stockpiles on the property. Rayonier is dividing soils by where they are found and how likely it is they are contaminated. They will test the stockpiled soil before final disposal or management.

A special fabric liner and sand covers the ground under the stockpiles. Sandbags hold down the plastic sheeting covering the stockpiles. Rayonier is inspecting the stockpiles daily. Since the stockpiles will remain on the site until final cleanup, Rayonier intends to create a semi-permanent cover after CSO project construction.

6) The city has removed one of the old bridges across Ennis Creek. They are now building a new bridge to carry the pipeline. The new bridge will be 100 feet across to allow for future potential creek restoration.

This photo shows workers building pile caps, which are part of the foundation of the new 100-foot bridge.


Fecal Matters: No Contact Advisory Lifted for Port Washington Narrows Near Bremerton, WA

BEACH Program Update

Bremerton, WA - Port Washington Narrows in Kitsap County is open for water recreation. The Kitsap Public Health District removed the no-contact advisory signs November 8, previously posted on November 1, 2012.

Visit the BEACH web site to find the latest results for these and other saltwater beaches: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Julie Lowe is the BEACH Program Manager and can be reached at julie.lowe@ecy.wa.gov



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Air Time: Just Don't Breathe

By Rod Tinnemore, Wood Stove Coordinator, Air Quality Program

Humans have always lived in an ocean of air. For the bulk of our history, we’ve never given a thought to our ability to take another breath. If there is a fire, the wind eventually blows the smoke so it “disappears” and we keep breathing. We put items into the flames and only ashes come out. Most of it “disappears.”It must be magic! Or at least these are our beliefs.

We may forget, however, that air flows between neighbors, towns, states and countries.Why would we object to polluting a neighbor’s water but ignore polluting a neighbor’s air? Our neighbor may have a choice about using that water, but breathing isn’t a choice. Believe it or not, I’ve had callers suggest that if their neighbors don’t like wood smoke “just tell them not to breathe.”

Air quality, like water quality, is affected by human and natural activity. There are nearly three times as many people living in Washington now as when I was born here. Areas that had one home on each 5- to 10-acre tract now have hundreds. There have also been tremendous increases in traffic and industry, yet technology has greatly reduced the air pollution from many sources. But neither technology nor perception has kept pace with the increased number of people polluting the air from their homes.People continue to burn outdoors and indoors as if neighbors are far away instead of right next door.

Air quality can also be very location dependent. Many areas of the U.S. experience seasons of calm called air stagnation.For many western states, that season occurs during the coldest winter days when wood stove use is the highest. Wood smoke rides layers of cold air and remains near the ground, sometimes for days or longer. I’ve had calls from folks telling me that “my elderly parents are trapped in their home on winter nights because there is so much smoke that they can’t breathe if they go out.” Just don’t breathe, Grandpa?

Like it or not, air is a shared resource. Solving a home heating problem by creating a wood smoke pollution problem is not an adequate solution. Neither is suggesting that people either freeze or don’t breathe. In the weeks ahead I will discuss how to reduce the pollution from a wood stoves and share some facts about wood smoke and your health.

For more information, see Wood Stoves, Fireplaces, Pellet Stoves and Masonry Heaters

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ecology, South King, Port of Seattle, Renton and Boeing fire departments responding to burning aviation gasoline spill in Federal Way

By Curt Hart, Spills Program

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology), South King Fire & Rescue, Port of Seattle, Renton and Boeing fire departments are responding to a 9,000-gallon aviation gasoline spill that caught fire and is still burning just off U.S. Interstate 5 in Federal Way.

All traffic lanes on I-5 are open.

The fuel spill and fire occurred after a tanker truck owned by Lee & Eastes Tank Lines and two cars were involved in fatal crash early this morning on southbound I-5 near exit 142 in Federal Way. The driver of the semi-tractor trailer truck was killed.

The fuel truck and trailer left the freeway and rolled, breaking through several concrete sound barriers. As a result, both fuel tankers burst and released the aviation gasoline – which has been burning since first responders arrived.

Firefighters are conducting a controlled burn of the remaining fuel that spilled from the trailers – including applying aqueous firefighting foam to flare ups and hot spots when necessary. On-site monitoring has not found any immediate health or safety concerns to nearby homes and businesses.

It is unknown how long the fire will last or how much fuel has been burned. Ecology is on site monitoring potential environmental impacts.

Responders from Lee & Eastes and their private cleanup contractor, NRC-Environmental Services, are working to clean up remaining fuel.

All oil spills cause environmental damage, regardless of size. Oil is toxic to the environment and the damage starts as soon as the oil hits water. A single quart of oil has the potential to foul more than 100,000 gallons of water.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Water’s Edge: Is your shoreline home or business in harm’s way?

by Curt Hart, communcations manager, Shorelines and Environmental Assistance Program

People have always been drawn to the water’s edge.

Hurricane Sandy’s devastation is a heartbreaking reminder that living near a lake, stream, river or Washington’s marine waters can come at the extreme cost of life and property. Knowing where erosion and high water may happen – and placing homes, roads, and businesses out of harm’s way – is the first step in avoiding costly losses.

Shoreline master programs help protect homes, structures


In Washington, most cities and counties have shoreline master programs that manage new uses and activities in hazard areas like floodplains, steep slopes, and landslide zones.


Local shoreline programs use buffers, setbacks and minimum lot sizes tailored to local conditions, which help place development a safe distance from the water’s edge.
A buffer that seems large in calm weather can disappear quickly in a winter storm or flood.

Being prepared for natural disasters like floods is wise and residents should prepare. Reducing the overall risk through land use planning is even wiser.

Choose carefully when buying or building a shoreline home or business


These tips can help:

Consider soft armoring for existing homes or businesses at risk


This information can prove invaluable:
  • Bulkheads, rip rap and other hard armoring are not always the best solution to protecting property unless it’s in immediate danger. Hard armoring redirects waves and currents to neighboring properties, sending the danger from one property to another. In some locations, softer alternatives – called ‘green shorelines’ – may protect property while working with natural site conditions.
  • Contact a qualified geo-engineer to determine whether hazards exist on your property.
  • If you own a farm or agricultural property, contact your local conservation district to get technical advice and possible funding to fix erosion problems.

For more information


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ecology’s Washington Conservation Corps head east

by Joye Redfield-Wilder, communication manager, Central Regional Office


Photo of a WCC crew from 2011
Ecology’s Washington Conservation Corps sent 48 crewmembers to the East Coast to assist communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. They left on Halloween from Ellensburg and will arrive Saturday, Nov. 3, for a 30-day stint helping neighborhoods in New York and elsewhere on the Eastern Seaboard to clean up debris, help at community shelters, distribute food, clothes and other supplies and assess damages to homes and other structures.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said: "Washingtonians stand with our friends and family on the East Coast as they begin to clean up and rebuild from the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy. The young women and men in our WCC AmeriCorps program have been deployed to disaster responses across the country and always put service above self. They will arrive in New York on Saturday and with their training and skills will hit the ground running. I thank them for stepping up to the relief effort."

Their departure is profiled in the Ellensburg Record.

Read about another WCC crew from Hadlock, in the Peninsula Daily News.

More about the WCC

Learn more about the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC).
Follow the WCC on Facebook.

Around the Sound: K Ply cleanup process and schedule

By Rebecca Lawson, Regional Section Manager, Toxics Cleanup Program

Ecology is entering into an agreed order (legal agreement) with the Port of Port Angeles (port) for the K Ply cleanup site (also known as PenPly or Peninsula Plywood). The agreed order requires the port to do an interim action (partial cleanup), investigate the site, and evaluate options for cleanup.

Last week Ecology’s cleanup team held an open house about the site and comment period. The comment period continues through Nov. 19, 2012. Site manager Connie Groven gave this presentation at the open house. Community members have asked a number of questions about what’s involved in cleaning up a contaminated site and how the K Ply cleanup schedule will work.

How a contaminated site gets cleaned up

Cleaning up sites where toxics have polluted land and water is very complex. Cleanup activities at K Ply are governed by the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA). MTCA, which was created by a citizens’ initiative that voters approved in 1988, has procedures for cleaning up contaminated sites so they are safe for human health and the environment. Sites are cleaned up in stages:
  • The remedial investigation & feasibility study (RI/FS) looks at the type and extent of pollution on the site and evaluates different cleanup options.
  • Ecology sometimes allows interim actions to partly clean up a site before the final cleanup plan is complete. Interim actions are done to correct a problem that may get worse, reduce a threat, or help complete the RI/FS.
  • The cleanup action plan (CAP) describes the cleanup methods and how they meet state standards. Ecology uses information from the RI/FS to select a cleanup action.
  • Cleanup removes contaminants from the site, contains them on the site, or treats them to make them less toxic.

K Ply cleanup timeline

We are using Lean processes in this cleanup. [You can read the MTCA Lean report here.] Lean goals include finishing the RI/FS process in two years and finishing cleanup in five years or less.

The K Ply agreed order does not set calendar due dates up front because all of the tasks build on previous tasks or milestones. For example, the first milestone is the port demolishing old mill structures. The port’s RI/FS work plan is due to Ecology 60 days after this. Based on the port’s current interim action work schedule, this means the port will likely send us their draft RI/FS work plan in August 2013.

After we review and approve the work plan, the port will do their RI/FS. We estimate that the port will collect data from November 2013 – February 2014 and submit their data and a draft RI/FS report in October 2014.

At each stage, the schedule includes time for:
  • Ecology staff to review the draft report and request any needed changes.
  • The port to make changes and submit a revised draft.
  • Ecology to review and approve the revised draft. By using Lean and working closely with the port up front, our goal is that, when we get to this stage, reports will not need more changes.
After we approve the RI/FS report, the port will develop a preliminary cleanup action plan. Ecology will then develop the final draft cleanup action plan and negotiate a new legal agreement for cleanup.

Following this schedule, we estimate that we will hold a public comment period on the RI/FS report, the draft cleanup plan, and new legal agreement in summer 2015. You can read the full schedule here on page 37.

Fecal Matters: No Contact Advisory Issued for Port Washington Narrows Near Bremerton, WA

BEACH Program Update

Today, Kitsap Public Health District issued a five-day no contact advisory for Port Washington Narrows between Point Herron and Tracyton near Bremerton, WA.

The closure includes Evergreen Rotary Park, Lent Landing Park and Lions Park.

The Health District posted signs warning the public not to enter the water or harvest shellfish.


The no-contact advisory is scheduled to be lifted the morning of Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

Visit the BEACH web site to find the latest results for these and other saltwater beaches: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Julie Lowe is the BEACH Program Manager and can be reached at julie.lowe@ecy.wa.gov

Toxics ban promotes innovative design, gives salmon a brake

By Ken Zarker, Ecology Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction

Like most people, I generally don’t spend a lot of time thinking about brake pads. Brakes are critical to our safety and vehicle performance. But it wasn’t until 2010 that I learned brake pads on our cars and trucks are a source of toxic chemical pollution. Every time we tap on the brakes, the resulting “brake dust” residue ends up on our streets and highways. This dust contains toxic metals, including copper. These toxics mix with rainfall and wash into our rivers, lakes and estuaries.

The Elemental Problem - Copper

The copper that ends up in streams, rivers and coastal waters can be toxic to tiny aquatic organisms like phytoplankton, which make up the bottom of the food chain; their health affects entire ecosystems. Copper is highly toxic to fish, especially to salmon. Even very low levels of copper impair salmon's sense of smell, making them vulnerable to predators and unable to find their way back to their spawning streams.

Taking Action

An Ecology scientific research study estimated that about 80,000 pounds of copper are released into Puget Sound per year. And brake pads are one of the largest sources of copper pollution to Puget Sound. As a result, the Legislature stepped forward in 2010 and passed a bill that set a goal to develop “better brakes” that are safe and better for the environment. Using a collaborative stakeholder approach, Ecology was able to work with the automotive industry, small businesses, trade associations, environmental organizations and government to produce an innovative approach to solving the problem.

Green through Green Chemistry

Creating better brakes is one example of how industrial designers are able to reformulate a product without sacrificing brake performance or safety. It’s a credit to all those involved for coming forward with a collaborative approach that will transform the global marketplace for the better. I often use this as an example of how we can use green chemistry as a multi-disciplinary approach to the creation of safer products.

Tacoma Smelter Plume: Fall park cleanups wrap up

By John Zinza, Field Coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program





Dockton Park, Vashon Island
Fencing will remain until the grass is established
Just in time for the rainy season, park soil cleanup work wrapped up last week.  We cleaned up over two acres of play area, removing 2,846 cubic yards of contaminated soil—enough to fill 150 truck loads!
Parks completed:
  • Dottie Harper (Burien)
  • McMicken Heights (SeaTac)
  • Sunset Playfields (SeaTac)
  • Lake Grove (Federal Way)
  • Dockton (Vashon Island)

Getting to the "root" of the problem at Lakewood parks

During the start of cleanup activity at American Lake, we ran into tree roots after removing the sod. Trees can easily be harmed by moving the soil around their roots. We stopped work and capped the area we disturbed.  We are looking into capping the rest of the play area at American Lake, instead of doing any more digging.

Out of concern for root damage, we cancelled work at Kiwanis Park. This winter, we will explore our options for Kiwanis, including capping. We expect to finish the work in 2013.


McMicken Heights Park, SeaTac

Lake Grove Park, Federal Way