Friday, April 26, 2013

Around the Sound: DNR, Kitsap clean up toxic creosote

By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Toxics Cleanup Program

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Kitsap County Parks & Recreation are going to work next week to pull creosote-soaked debris from Kitsap beaches.

That includes old pilings treated with toxic creosote (similar to those shown in the photo to the right), as well as in-water structures and marine debris tainted with the nasty stuff.

For decades, creosote was used to coat wood pilings for docks and other structures built in and over Puget Sound waters. The creosote protects the pilings. It’s long-lasting – and that’s the problem.

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

Around June, Ecology plans to start work on the second phase of an extensive cleanup at the Custom Plywood site on the shore of Fidalgo Bay in Anacortes. It’s a major part of our Puget Sound Initiative work.

The first phase of cleaning up the former site of a burned-down mill was completed in summer 2011. Now it’s time to do some extensive in-water work, including removal of creosote pilings and other structures.

The plan also includes dredging out a large amount of contaminated underwater sediments.

Stay tuned for more details when the Custom Plywood project begins.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fecal Matters: Proposed Beach Monitoring List Availabile for Public Comment

BEACH Program Update

This wonderful weather has us looking forward to beach sampling season!

Water testing at saltwater swimming beaches runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Check out our proposed beach list for water testing during the upcoming 2013 season!
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/beachlist.html

Tell us what you think: send your comments to the Interim Beach Program Manager, Christopher Clinton at christopher.clinton@ecy.wa.gov.

Remember to surf the web before you surf the beach! 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.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tell us your Earth Day wish - April 22, 2013

Ecology's Communication and Education program

We’re trying something new at Ecology on Earth Day and inviting you to be part of it.

From noon to 1 p.m. PST on Monday, April 22, we’re asking you to share your wish for Earth Day during our first Twitter chat. Think of it like a birthday wish you'd make while blowing out candles, only it's for the planet on this 43rd Earth Day.

We’ll kick it off with a question and see what you have to say. If you don’t already, follow Ecology on Twitter. We are using #EarthDayWish to group the tweets.

Invite your friends. Join the conversation. Share your wishes for Earth Day.

We'll be tweeting from @EcologyWA. You can follow the stream of wishes with the hashtag #EarthDayWish

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fecal Matters: No Contact Advisory Removed for Drayton Harbor in Whatcom County, WA

BEACH Program Update

On April 17, 2013, the Whatcom County Public Health Department removed the no contact advisory issued April 12, 2013 for all of Drayton Harbor near Blaine, WA. Follow-up samples taken near California and Dakota Creeks indicated satisfactory bacteria levels.

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.

Christopher Clinton is the interim BEACH Program Manager and can be reached at christopher.clinton@ecy.wa.gov



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tacoma Smelter Plume: Tacoma Public Meeting Recap

By Jill Jacobson, Yard Program Outreach Coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program

Last Thursday night, we held the last of three public meetings for the Tacoma Smelter Plume Yard Program Design and Implementation Plan in the cafeteria of Woodrow Wilson High School in Tacoma. We had a turnout of 25 people who came out to learn about yard sampling and cleanup in Tacoma neighborhoods.

Most people came from the Tacoma area to learn how to sign up for soil sampling. Here are a few of the common questions and answers that were discussed.

Can I receive soil sampling if my property is outside the service area?

If your property is outside of the service area but nearby in King or Pierce County, we can sign you up to receive soil sampling. For more information, contact Jill Jacobson, Outreach Coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program at Jill.Jacobson@ecy.wa.gov or 360-407-6245.

How can I find out if my property is located in the service area and when you will begin work in my area?

You can view the map to the right to determine if your property is located within the service area. Please read page 3 of the Frequently Asked Questions to find out when we will most likely begin work in your area.

Technical Workshop Recap

Before the open house, about 12 people attended the technical workshop to learn more about the science behind Ecology's decisions. Here are a few of the topics we discussed:
  • How did Ecology determine the service area?
  • How did Ecology choose 90 ppm arsenic as the threshold for action?
  • What will soil sampling look like and what tools will Ecology use?
  • What are the health effects of arsenic and lead?
You can find answers to these questions in our yard program design and implementation plan.

Comment Period Ends on April 29th, 2013

Please send your written comments on the yard program design to Amy Hargrove, Remediation Manager, at P.O. Box 47775, Olympia, WA 98504-7775 or Amy.Hargrove@ecy.wa.gov. Check our comment period page for more information.

Sign up: If your property is within the Tacoma Smelter Plume service area, sign up for soil sampling by completing the sampling access agreement. Return this form to Jill Jacobson, Outreach Coordination, P.O. Box 47775, Olympia, WA 98504-7775 or Jill.Jacobson@ecy.wa.gov.

Contact Hannah Aoyagi at Hannah.Aoyagi@ecy.wa.gov or 360-407-6790 to make sure you are on the mailing list for updates and announcements.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fecal Matters: No Contact Advisory Issued for Drayton Harbor in Whatcom County, WA

BEACH Program Update

On April 12, 2013, the Whatcom County Public Health Department with Washington State Department of Health issued a no contact advisory for all of Drayton Harbor near Blaine, WA. The closure was issued due to high fecal bacteria in California and Dakota Creeks which empty into the harbor. The public is warned not to harvest shellfish or make contact with the water until further notice.

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.

Christopher Clinton is the interim BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6154 or christopher.clinton@ecy.wa.gov for questions.

Stories about Getting to Clean Water: Understanding and Controlling Sea Lettuce in Dumas Bay

By Diane Dent, Water Quality Stories Lead, Water Quality Program

Map of Dumas Bay, King County, Washington.
Dumas Bay, near Federal Way in King County, is part of Puget Sound. Three streams drain into the urban 40-acre bay, which is part of the Puyallup-White watershed.

The problem
Residents living along Dumas Bay began to notice excessive amounts of macro algae, better known as sea lettuce, and a very strong odor in the air. Ecology performed inspections and soon determined they were being caused by the sea lettuce.

In 2007, Federal Way began consulting with Ecology about the problem, as well as working with the Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources, and Health; Lake Haven Utility District, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, and local residents.
Federal Way's Surface Water Management (SWM) Division goals for this project included:
• Gaining an understanding of the causes of excess sea lettuce growth and its associated odor problem.

• Helping watershed residents understand the problem and what, if anything, they could do to alleviate it.
Assessing the health risk posed by hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gases from the decomposing seaweed.

To find out the results of  Federal Way's project, read this full story online.

Story written by Tricia Shoblom, Ecology Northwest Regional Office

Telling our success stories

Water quality success stories provide a wealth of information associated with novel project designs, funding ideas, and useful resource suggestions. Some are clear successes; others supply valuable lessons to help us grow in our understanding of water quality protection and restoration. Stories illustrate successes gained from cooperation among Washington’s citizens and organizations.

Read all of our
Ecology's water quality success stories, and check out our complete catalog of stories.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Free community forum on ocean acidification in Port Angeles April 15

By Sandy Howard, communication manager, water quality and environmental assessment programs

Ocean acidification, its effects and local solutions will be highlighted at a community forum in Port Angeles featuring speakers from the Washington state Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification.

The public is invited to attend the community forum from 6 to 8 p.m. on April 15 at the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 East 7th Street.

Speakers include Eric Swenson, communications and outreach director for the Global Ocean Health Program, who will present “The Science of Ocean Acidification.”

NOAA scientist Nina Bednarsek will speak on “Ocean Acidification’s Effects on Pteropods,” which are an important food source for salmon and other fish.

Brad Warren, director for the Global Ocean Health Program, will present “Recommendations, Partnerships and Actions.”

Betsy Peabody, founder of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, will describe “Local Impacts, Local Solutions.”

John Forster, Port Angeles aquaculture consultant, will address “Seaweed Farming: A Potential Counter-measure to Acidification and Global Hunger.”

Clallam County Commissioner Mike Doherty will welcome the panelists and attendees.

The forum is hosted by the Clallam County Marine Resources Committee.

In addition to the Clallam County MRC, the event is sponsored by the Northwest Straits Commission, Puget Sound Partnership, Puget Sound Restoration Fund, National Fisheries Conservation Center and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.

To address the threat of increasingly corrosive marine waters, former Washington Gov.Chris Gregoire appointed the 28-member Panel on Ocean Acidification in February 2012. Co-chaired by Bill Ruckelshaus, the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Jay Manning, former director of the Washington Department of Ecology, the panel presented its findings and 42 recommendations Nov. 27, 2012. Learn more online.

New “Eyes Over Puget Sound” for April 8

By Sandy Howard, communication manager, Environmental Assessment Program

Our cover photo shows the Skokomish River at Hood Canal.

For the last week, sunshine was sparse and rivers and air temperatures were warmer than expected due to prevailing southerly winds. Heavy rains caused long foam lines and large river plumes that were filled with sediment. Jelly fish patches persist in smaller bays.

Are higher oxygen conditions seen over the last two years starting to disappear?

We were busy in 2012 and spooled out 36 miles of line to deploy our equipment to explore the depths of our estuaries.

See the latest Eyes Over Puget Sound.

“Eyes Over Puget Sound” combines high-resolution photo observations with satellite images, en route ferry data between Seattle and Victoria BC, and measurements from our moored instruments.


Follow us!


Learn more about Ecology's marine water quality monitoring program and see more Eyes Over Puget Sound reports.

Sign up to receive email notifications about the latest “Eyes Over Puget Sound” by subscribing to Ecology’s email listserv .

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tacoma Smelter Plume: Public Meeting in Tacoma this Thursday!

By Jill Jacobson, Outreach Coordinator, Toxic Cleanup Program
  
Aerial view of the old Arsarco stack

This Thursday, we are holding the final open house on the Tacoma Smelter Plume-Residential Yard Sampling and Cleanup program design. This is the final of three meetings during the public comment period that ends on April 29th.

Thursday, April 11th, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Woodrow Wilson High School Cafeteria, 1202 N Orchard St. Tacoma

6:30 - 7:00 p.m. Open house session
7:00 - 8:00 p.m. Presentation, question and answer
8:00 - 8:30 p.m. Open house session

Technical Workshop, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.  
Join us earlier on April 11th to learn more about the science behind Ecology's decision making.

Comment Period ends April 29th, 2013
Please send your written comments on the yard program design to Amy Hargrove, Remediation Manager at P.O. Box 47775, Olympia, WA 98504-7775 or Amy.Hargrove@ecy.wa.gov. Check our comment period page for more information.

Contact Hannah Aoyagi at Hannah.Aoyagi@ecy.wa.gov or 360-407-6790 to make sure you are on the mailing list for updates and announcements.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Stories about Getting to Clean Water: Stormwater Sleuths Solve the Mystery of the Putrid Pipe - Pullman’s hunt for the elusive, illicit discharge

By Diane Dent, Water Quality Stories Lead, Water Quality Program

Pullman stormwater outfall dye test
Dye testing to determine illicit connection of a sanitary sewer to a stormwater outfall.
Photo credit: Pullman Stormwater Services
The illicit stormwater discharge often lurks out of sight under a city’s buildings and streets. The challenge for cities, regulated under the state’s Municipal Stormwater Permit, is to locate and eliminate this pollution source.

Problem


In every city across the nation, mistakes happen during construction. After all, when you are connecting pipes underground they all pretty much look the same. But it is important to make sure the drains from sinks and toilets lead to the sanitary sewer and not the stormwater sewer. A misconnection could mean raw sewage going directly to a stream without treatment. An illicit discharge is any discharge to a stormwater system that is not composed entirely of stormwater.

City crews working on an infrastructure replacement project in Pullman’s downtown business district noticed “suspicious material”. The obviously illicit connection was traced back to a historic office building. A true team effort of private contractors and public staff was required to fully unravel the mystery.
  • To learn more about this illicit discharge, read this full story online
  • Story written by Elaine Snouwaert, Ecology Eastern Regional Office

Telling our success stories


Water quality success stories provide a wealth of information associated with novel project designs, funding ideas, and useful resource suggestions. Some are clear successes; others supply valuable lessons to help us grow in our understanding of water quality protection and restoration. Stories illustrate successes gained from cooperation among Washington’s citizens and organizations.

Read all of our Ecology's water quality success stories, and check out our complete catalog of stories.

Tacoma Smelter Plume: Vashon-Maury Island Public Meeting Recap

By Jill Jacobson, Yard Program Outreach Coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program


Sequence of the Yard Program on Vashon-Maury Island
Last night, we held the second of three public meetings for the Tacoma Smelter Plume Yard Program Design and Implementation Plan in the cafeteria of the McMurray Middle School on Vashon Island. We had a turnout of 15 people, a lot smaller than our previous meeting on Vashon where around 200 people were in attendance.

Most people came from southern Vashon-Maury Island to learn more about our new program to sample and cleanup residential yards. We heard many questions about when Ecology would begin work on Vashon-Maury Island. Here are a few common questions and answers that were discussed:

How can I find out if I am located in the yard program service area on Vashon Island?

Answer: You can view the map (above right) to determine if your house is in the Tacoma Smelter Plume service area of Southern Vashon-Maury Island.

When will you begin work on Vashon and how long until you reach my neighborhood?

Answer: At this time, we plan to begin sampling on Vashon-Maury Island in early 2014 in the area marked letter A. Once we complete sampling on A, we will begin sampling in the area marked B. Please see the yard program sequencing map on page 3 of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more information about our timeline.

I have small children or grandchildren who play in my yard, what can I do to reduce their risk?

Answer: Ecology recommends taking "healthy actions" to reduce your contact with the soil. Although there is not an immediate health risk, Ecology is concerned about long-term exposure to arsenic and lead in soil. Healthy actions include washing hands after working in the yard and taking shoes off at the door.

Can Ecology sample my yard sooner?

Answer: Please let us know if you are concerned about small children, or if you are landscaping or installing a new garden soon. In some cases, we might be able to sample your yard sooner.

You can find more information about the above topics on our webpage and our fact sheet on the Yard Program in Southern Vashon-Maury Island. Please help us spread the word to your neighbors that Ecology is accepting access agreements for soil sampling now.

Upcoming Meeting

We have about three weeks left in the public comment period, which ends April 29th. We have one more public meeting coming up next week:
Thursday, April 11th, 2013, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson High School Cafeteria, 1202 N. Orchard St., Tacoma
*Technical Workshop, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Join us before the open house on April 11th to learn more about the science behind Ecology's decisions.

AirTime: Wood-fired hydronic heaters

By Rod Tinnemore, Wood Stove Coordinator, Air Quality Program

The best solutions to problems create wins all around. A republican president stated in his State of the Union address in 1970, “We can no longer afford to consider air and water common property, free to be abused by anyone without regard to the consequences. Instead, we should begin now to treat them as scarce resources, which we are no more free to contaminate than we are free to throw garbage into our neighbor’s yard.” In a similar vein, my mantra is “Solving a home heating problem by creating an air pollution problem is not a win-win”.

There are devices called wood-fired hydronic heaters or outdoor wood boilers that have caused havoc throughout the NE and Mid-West U.S. Many of these units and their operators are violating this win-win principle. These devices are currently not regulated by EPA and can emit nearly 100 times the pollution per hour of a Washington approved wood stove. Worse, irresponsible owners have used them as crude home incinerators, burning garbage, plastic chairs, animal carcasses and diapers. Remember, what goes into that firebox still comes out, often in a more toxic form. Can you imagine living next door to these toxic, smoke-generating machines? Who would do that to their neighbors?

There is hope for a better solution. The Washington State Department of Ecology prohibits the sale of outdoor wood-fired boilers in Washington State and works to help innovators create better boilers. EPA will begin regulating these devices in 2014 so new, much cleaner models are already making their way into the market. There is currently only one indoor wood-fired hydronic heater and only a few pellet-fueled hydronic heaters approved for sale in Washington State. These devices can heat an entire house with no more pollution than from a Washington approved wood stove. That’s a win for home heating, for neighbors and for the environment.

If you have questions about these or other solid fuel burning devices, contact Rod Tinnemore, wood stove coordinator, at the Washington State Department of Ecology, 360-407-6978, rod.tinnemore@ecy.wa.gov . You’ll find the list of Washington approved wood burning devices online at Ecology's woodstove page.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Tacoma Smelter Plume: Ruston/North Tacoma Public Meeting Recap

By Jill Jacobson, Yard Program Outreach Coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program

Last Thursday night, we held our first of three public meetings for the Tacoma Smelter Plume Yard Program Design and Implementation Plan in the cafeteria of Point Defiance Elementary School. We had a good turnout for the meeting, with 43 people in attendance.

Most people came from the Ruston and Tacoma area to learn more about our new program to sample and clean up residential yards. We heard many questions about how people can find out if their yard is located in the plume and whether it qualifies for Yard Program sampling. Here are a few common questions and answers that were discussed:

How can I find out if I am located in the yard program service area?

Answer: You can view this map to determine if your house is in the service area.

What has already been done in the EPA study area in Ruston and north Tacoma and how is it different than what Ecology will do?

Answer: EPA cleaned up the worst contamination--arsenic levels of 230 parts per million (ppm) and above. However, Ecology has a lower action level of 100 ppm arsenic. We are offering cleanup for yards where the property has average arsenic between 100 and 230 ppm.

Where can I find my sampling results from EPA's work?

Answer: Visit the Arsenic in Soil (AREIS) database online. If you need help accessing the data, please contact Jill Jacobson at 360-407-6245 or Jill.Jacobson@ecy.wa.gov

When will you begin work in my neighborhood?

Answer: We will begin sampling and cleanup this year. At this time, it is hard to predict when we will begin work in your area. It depends on a number of factors, including how many people choose to participate in the program. Please see the yard program sequencing map on page 3 of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

You can find more information about the above topics in the FAQ and on our webpage.

Upcoming Meetings

We are just about one-third of the way through the public comment period, which ends April 29th. The upcoming public meetings:
  • Wednesday, April 3rd, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the McMurray Middle School Cafeteria, 9329 SW Cemetery Rd., Vashon Island
  • Thursday, April 11th, 2013, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson High School Cafeteria, 1202 N. Orchard St., Tacoma
  • *Technical Workshop, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Join us before the open house on April 11th to learn more about the science behind Ecology’s decisions.

College students crunch Hanford groundwater contaminant numbers

By Erika Holmes, Community Outreach & Environmental Education, Nuclear Waste Program

Ecology hydrogeologist Joe Caggiano working with Columbia Basin College students to analyze Hanford groundwater contamination data.
Over the last three months, Ecology's Nuclear Waste Program teamed up with statistics teacher Linda Rogers and her two classes at Columbia Basin College to analyze Hanford groundwater data. At Hanford, about 72 square miles of groundwater are contaminated above drinking water standards. One of Ecology’s top goals is to keep this contamination from reaching the Columbia River, an extremely important resource for the Northwest. To clean it up, we need consistent information about contaminant behavior to predict how contamination moves and make plans to intercept it.


Much of the groundwater contamination is the result of leaks or spills from Hanford’s 177 underground
Ecology chemist Mike Barnes working with Columbia Basin College students to analyze Hanford groundwater contamination data.
storage tanks that hold a total of 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste. These tanks are organized into groups called tank farms, and Linda and her students’ work focuses on data from C Tank Farm in Hanford’s 200 East Area. Using groundwater sampling data spanning from the 1980s through today, we asked this group to establish movement trends for three groundwater contaminants beneath C Tank Farm: nitrate, sulfate, technetium-99.

The work of Linda and her students adds valuable input to Hanford cleanup and is a great service to our community. We plan to share their findings with the U.S. Department of Energy, their tank farm contractor, and the public. Stay tuned, as we’ll be posting more about this project as the reports are finalized …

For more photos of this project, please see our Columbia Basin College, Hanford Groundwater Statistics Project album on Ecology’s Hanford Education & Outreach Facebook page. "Liking" this Facebook page is an easy way to keep up with Hanford news and events!