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Monday, February 26, 2007

Surfers Protest Sewage Dumping Off Madeira Beach

Members from the local Sebastian Inlet Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation traveled to Madeira Beach on Saturday, February 24, 2007 for a successful demonstration to protest the dumping of partially treated sewage by gambling ships just off the west coast.

Members young and old met with interested citizens and surfers alike for a beachside and in-ocean protest. More than thirty protestors gathered on the Johns Pass Bridge, on the beach, and in two boats holding signs and surfboards reading “Pump, Don’t Dump,” “Dilution Is Not The Solution” and “No Poo in the Big Blue.” Local citizens also stopped by during their morning beach walks to see what the event was all about and joined the demonstration by holding banners and recruiting other passerbys. An airplane flying a large banner with the phase “Got Sewage? SunCruz Dumps It Daily!” circled the gambling ship during the mid-morning event. Following the protest, Greg Gordon from the Sebastian Inlet Chapter demonstrated the minimal steps currently used by the casino ship industry to treat and dump partially treated sewage directly into the Gulf of Mexico and into the Atlantic Ocean.

“Gambling ships like the SunCruz Casino dump thousands of gallons of partially treated sewage directly into the ocean on a daily basis. The environmental impact is extreme, to say the least,” said Rick Hayes, Sebastian Inlet Chapter Chairman. “The sewage is dumped into prime fishing locations, adversely affecting an important Florida industry and recreational pastime, and the waste washes to shore, leaving the ocean an unsafe place for surfers, their families and tourists to spend their time.”

The protest was in conjunction with Surfrider Foundation’s support of the Clean Oceans Bill. Sponsored by Rep. Bob Allen and Sen. Mike Bennett, if passed, the bill would establish a fee for waste removal by the ports that gambling ships have to pay, even if they still dump their waste in the ocean. The bill would also require the ships to register with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Copies of the bill were provided to Surfrider members and interested citizens after the demonstration and everyone was encouraged to work with their local government representatives to raise awareness of the bill. The response from citizens and surfers who live on the west coast was so positive that the Suncoast Chapter of Surfrider Foundation is currently in re-development.

Photos of the event: http://pond.totallylocalmarketing.com/surfridersi/madeiraBeach/


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