For Immediate Release
May 28, 2009
State DNR and partners remove creosote laden logs and treated debris from Livingston Bay beaches
OLYMPIA—Washington’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is removing as much as 100 tons of creosote material from an ecologically-sensitive area within Port Susan Bay. The first removals are in the smaller Livingston Bay, renowned for its marsh, mudflat, and estuarine habitat and its importance for 50,000 birds as a migratory stopover along the Pacific Flyway.
Preparations for today’s creosote removal project have been underway for several months. Hundreds of private and public landowners were contacted about the removal of creosote soaked materials from their beaches. Today, HiLine Helicopters began lifting the debris to the staging areas protected by plastic tarps to prevent contamination.
“Projects such as this creosote removal in an environmentally sensitive and valuable area will help us clean up Puget Sound—one beach at a time,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.
The key partners and landowners for the project are Shoreline property owners, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Island County, Twin City Foods, The Nature Conservancy, and the Whidbey/Camano Land Trust.
“Removing these creosote-soaked logs from Port Susan Bay and Livingston Bay is important for restoring the health of Puget Sound and protecting the health of all of us who live, work and play here,” said Karen Anderson, Washington state director for The Nature Conservancy. “Creosote can be lethal to marine species, and these bays are important for the survival of salmon, shorebirds, and other creatures. The Conservancy is very happy to support the state Department of Natural Resources’ effort to remove these logs and help meet the state’s goal of cleaning up the Sound by 2020.”
Young crews prepare for pickup of creosote logs
Crews of 8-15 people from Washington Conservation Corps, DNR Fire, and EarthCorps stage the debris and assist with helicopter pick up the material. Crews work on the beach, pile and bundle logs and fill huge bags with contaminated materials ahead of the helicopter, and hook materials to the helicopter cable. Other ground crews work directly with the helicopter at the drop off staging area.
The work is taking place on Port Susan and Livingston Bays, located on the northeast corner of Camano Island, just southeast of Stanwood. Since 2004 over 8,200 tons of creosote-treated debris and pilings have been removed from throughout the Puget Sound.
Some public land is closed for safety reasons during this project. Iverson Spit County Park and shoreline to the north will be closed on May 28th, 2009 for helicopter operations. Also the end of Foxtrot Way on the north shore of Livingston Bay is closed for staging and helicopter operations May 28- June 1.
Danger of creosote-infused wood
The surface of marine pilings is treated about 2 inches deep with about 1 gallon of creosote per cubic foot. The creosote contained in these pilings has about 300 chemicals, many of which cause cancer, abnormalities, deformities, or even death to many marine organisms. When exposed to the sun, the chemicals in creosote become much more toxic and are more likely to leach from the pilings. In old contaminated logs, as much as 40 percent of the weight can be the creosote.
Children often climb on wood at the beach, and can get chemicals on their skin. If wood is burned in a beach fire, the toxic chemicals also can be released into the air and inhaled.
To help restore the health and function of Puget Sound, and protect the public from toxic materials, DNR and its partners have been removing creosote–infused and other chemically–treated materials from the state’s waters and beaches.
DNR, steward of state aquatic lands
As steward of the 2.6 million acres of state aquatic lands, DNR manages the bedlands under Puget Sound, the coast, many of Washington’s beaches, and natural lakes and navigable rivers. DNR manages these lands not only to facilitate navigation, commerce, and public access, but also to ensure protection of aquatic habitat.
State-owned aquatic lands include:
- About 68,100 acres of state-owned tidelands, or 106 square miles
- 90,000 acres of harbor areas
- All submerged marine lands below extreme low tide—that’s 3,430 square miles of bedlands under navigable waters, as well as freshwater shorelands and bedlands
Peter Goldmark, who administers the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, is Washington’s 13th Commissioner of Public Lands since statehood in 1889, and the first commissioner from Eastern Washington.
Contact: Jane Chavey, Olympia, 360-902-1721; cell, 360-870-8334
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