After 25 Years Of Pollution Prevention, Wash. State Working Toward Greener Chemicals – KPLU

A good quick overview of the next wave of pollution control. Focusing on engineering right from the start. The only way to really fix the problem, frankly.

It has been 25 years since the federal government passed the Pollution Prevention Act. The 1990 law is credited with reducing industrial waste by as much as 60 percent since it was enacted, by getting companies and governments to look upstream at what goes into the manufacturing process and stopping pollution at the source. But the effectiveness of that approach appears to have limits. With many toxic chemicals remaining, especially in consumer products, additional strategies are needed. And that’s where states come in. Washington is considered a pioneer. Ken Zarker, a section manager for pollution prevention with the State Department of Ecology,  says Washington has 8 or 9 laws on the books that are looked to by experts as model legislation for the reduction of toxic chemicals. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Did the US Navy Break Federal Laws to Push War Games Over National Forests? – Truth Out

The continuing saga of the Navy taking over more land, sea and air space, with the implied notion that they “own” it. We need a good lawyer out here that can stop this nonsense.  A good read by Truth-Out’s local writer Dahr Jamail.

“The Navy has an astonishing sense of entitlement to public lands and waters,” Sullivan said about how the Navy has approached the public’s concerns over its operations. “Northwest Training and testing range manager Kent Mathes told me last year after a public meeting, ‘We own the airspace and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.'”

As Truthout previously reported, if it gets its way, the Navy would be flying Growler jets – electronic attack aircraft that specialize in radar jamming – in 2,900 training exercises over wilderness, communities and cities across the Olympic Peninsula for 260 days per year, with exercises lasting up to 16 hours per day. Naval surface fleet ships will also be participating by homing in on ground-based emitters – a topic that was never discussed in the Navy’s environmental assessment.

UW Study finds stormwater runoff killing salmon and other fish – UW

It seems to me that there has never been a clearer outcome of a study that allows us take simple action to save our salmon runs. Rain gardens anyone?

The long awaited study from the University of Washington on the toxic effects of stormwater runoff from roads is now complete. The study, which has been documented on this web site previously, showed that runoff captured from highway 520 near the Montlake Cut, was lethal enough to kill fish exposed to it.

Untreated highway runoff, collected in nine separate storm events, was universally lethal to coho relative to unexposed controls. Lastly, the mortality syndrome was prevented when highway runoff was pretreated by soil infiltration, a conventional green stormwater infiltration technology.

The study is found here

Longer story on it at the Seattle Times.

Low levels of oil pollution harm herring, salmon, study finds – Seattle Times

Our knowledge of the effects of even low levels of oil on fish populations continue to grow. This will have impacts on our port, and points to more needs for storm water solutions that include eventual re-design of almost every highway in the state, to stop car runoff into our waterways. It won’t happen overnight, but is happening and will continue to, given these findings. It’s our food sources vs. business as usual with autos.

Federal scientists based in Seattle and Alaska have found that oil — by impairing heart functions — can cause serious harm to herring and pink salmon at far lower concentrations than previously documented. The research, published Tuesday online in Nature’s Scientific Reports, could help unravel the mystery of why herring stocks in Prince William Sound collapsed after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Their work also has implications about the effects of low levels of chronic oil pollution in Puget Sound and elsewhere in the world. “What this study shows is that in very, very low concentration of oil, embryonic fish … get born with a mild heart defect,” said John Incardona, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration toxicologist at a Seattle fisheries science center. He is one of 10 co-authors of the study. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Populated Puget Sound sees stark shifts in marine fish species – Phys. Org

Those of us who have been working on protecting and restoring Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea, have known for years that human population growth is the biggest root cause of the decline in the waters. More science now arrives to point to that as well. It’s the underlying concern that we are not going to rehabilitate our waters to the levels we expect, without some pretty profound changes in land use, and our incessant demand to pour all our waste waters into the Sound as our toilet. And don’t get me started on Canadian lack of interest in protecting their waters. They are going backwards far faster than we are going forward on this issue.

The most populated areas of Puget Sound have experienced striking shifts in marine species, with declines in herring and smelt that have long provided food for other marine life and big increases in the catch of jellyfish, which contribute far less to the food chain, according to new research that tracks species over the last 40 years. The parallel trends of rising human population and declining forage fish such as herring and smelt indicate that human influences such as pollution and development may be eroding species that long dominated Puget Sound. In particular, the rise of jellyfish blooms may divert energy away from highly-productive forage species that provide food for larger fish and predators such as salmon, seabirds and marine mammals. The research by scientists from NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the University of Washington and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was published in April in Marine Ecology Progress Series. (Phys.Org)

New proposed rules on fish consumption by Governor Inslee and DOE

The Govenor has issued a policy brief, on the issue of reducing toxic pollution called “No Single Source, No Single Solution”. In it, he explains that the Clean Water Act has been beneficial, but that new tools are needed to address emerging sources of toxic pollution. Why should you care? 

If you eat fish, especially locally caught fish, you are eating some amount of toxic pollution. The government has arbitrarily decided that the amount you eat that may be harmful is a very small portion. Most people in the NW eat much more than that portion weekly. If the government is serious about reducing the amount of toxins in your fish, it needs to force polluters not to put that in the water in the first place. Who are those polluters? Many companies are small polluters, that might be able to work with Ecology to reduce their pollution. However, there are others, that are iconic here, such as Boeing, that  see this as a distinct threat to their continued profits. They will strongly oppose this.

There are lots of good that can come from this, not just from regulating Boeing, but all the other point sources of pollution. Read the Governor’s policy brief for a more comprehensive overview, so I don’t have to repeat it here.

To quote from the WDOE press release:

The state’s updated water quality standards would ensure that no standard, except naturally occurring arsenic, becomes less protective. Seventy percent of the new standards would be more protective. Most would be from two to 20 times more protective. The remaining 30 percent of the standards would maintain the current protective standards and would not backslide. Because arsenic occurs naturally at high levels in Washington, Ecology proposes the updated arsenic standard align with the federal drinking water standard.

Ecology’s cost-benefit analysis on the updated water quality standards indicates the new standards would create minimal costs to water dischargers. Although there would be approximately 55 new polluted water listings under the proposed standards, the new water pollution listings would not immediately result in new requirements for any exist.

It’s hard to say whether, in this current legislature, the Governor’s proposal will move beyond a proposal. But it is a good idea, and it is worth supporting. It is better than the current situation.

Inslee’s pollution solution: tackle water toxics at source – AP via Bellingham Herald

Just last night at a meeting I was attending, someone brought this issue up. The abstract battle of the state setting the safe amount of fish to eat actually pits industrial giants like Boeing against tribal and other people who eat far more than the ‘usual’ amount of fish that the average American eats. If the state takes a stand on saying that larger portions are ‘safe’ then they have to do more regulations to limit industrial output of pollution. The notion of moving the authority upstream is one that environmental activists have pushed for over the last two decades.

Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing legislation to protect state waters by tackling pollution at its source and giving a state agency the authority to potentially ban the worst chemicals in products before they get into the environment. ….Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)


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