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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rise Above Plastics...at the top of the watershed

Marine debris is a global problem of local concern...no matter where you are. Although the impacts of non-biodegradable litter are concentrated at the lower reaches of the watershed--which may lead people to believe it is a coastal problem--those of us who live further upstream have an important role to play in preventing the proliferation of everlasting refuse that plagues our waterways.

This is the message that was recently delivered to students at Truckee High School (located high in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California) by Ximena Waissbluth, marine debris educator extraordinaire. Check out the coverage she received by local rag Moonshine Ink.

To learn more about plastic marine debris and how you can reduce your plastic footprint, visit:

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

City of Lake Worth Approves 5-0 to Join the Palm Beach Chapter's Lawsuit

A a major step towards a 3 year campaign against a dredge and fill project was won by all citizens who treasure our local beaches and marine environment last night. The City of Lake Worth took a 21st century stand to join to protect what people the people love about living and visiting Palm Beach County.

Joining the legal petition as an intervener against the Department of Environmental Protection and the Town of Palm Beach’s Reach 8 beach dredging permit, commmitted the City to saving and preserving the Lake Worth Public Beach, Pier, and reefs. This is the first time in US history that a dredge and fill project permit has been challenged.

About 100 hundred people who have dived, snorkeled, swam or walked these beaches for decades filled the City Commission chambers to let the City and the Towm of Palm Beach know they would not sit quietly and watch the loss of their public trust resources.

The City joins the ranks of other East Coast governments such as Long Beach, NY, Sconset(Nantucket), MA and Outer Banks, NC in making bold stands against antiquated, reckless, expensive and devestating projects and practices that continues to look to destroy recreation and habitats.

In addition, Eastern Surfing Association will be joining Surfrider, Snook Foundation and 3 individual plantiffs to protect the beach, surf and reefs.

The Court date is August 25.

Recent Stories

WPTV story & Video Clip

Palm Beach Post

Palm Beach Daily News

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Georgia-Pacific Article in Oregonian

photo: Nye Beach in Newport, OR


Newport residents petition DEQ about discharge from Georgia-Pacific plant

NEWPORT -- Three years after coastal residents took their worries to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality about the wastewater Georgia-Pacific pumps into the ocean, the agency soon might be ready to take action.

DEQ is focusing this summer on a petition filed in October 2006 asking it to reconsider the permit that allows the Toledo mill to discharge 11 million gallons of effluent daily.

"Things will probably start coming out this summer, and we're going to try to resolve the reconsideration by the fall," said Steve Schnurbusch, DEQ water quality compliance inspector and permit writer.

The petition is unusual, one of about five the agency has seen in five years, Schnurbusch said.

"It doesn't happen too often," he said. "We don't even get one a year, and this is the first time it happened with Georgia-Pacific."

For 50 years, the pulp and paper mill in Toledo has piped the wastewater generated from creating paper products into the ocean about 3,850 feet off of Nye Beach.

In 2005 when DEQ hosted public hearings on renewing the permit, some nearby residents lobbied hard to get permit standards tightened and to strengthen monitoring of the effluent. In July 2006, DEQ renewed the permit without change.

Three months later, several groups filed the petition for reconsideration and DEQ agreed.

Those behind the petition fear the effluent could harm people who surf, swim and boat on the ocean, and that it could be contributing to the dead zones -- areas so low in oxygen that marine life suffocates -- close by.

"As far as anyone understands, the discharge is not causing the dead zone," said Pete Stauffer, Oregon policy coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for better water quality, beach access and ocean health. "The concern is that in an area where you already have low oxygen, to be discharging wastewater that is also low in oxygen can compound the stress already on the environment."

This spring, after a January meeting with DEQ, Surfrider offered its own recommendations. They include requiring Georgia-Pacific to monitor water, sediments and organisms adjacent to the outfall pipe to ensure it is in compliance with the Clean Water Act, to assess how recreational uses in the area might be affected and to verify that the discharge in the mixing zone -- the area of ocean encompassing the pipe where water does not have to meet clean water standards -- is not going beyond the boundaries of the mixing zone.

"In the broadest sense, we want to see a permit that is consistent with state and federal law that protects water quality," Stauffer said.

The foundation is particularly concerned about heavy metals, such as lead; hydrocarbons, which are typically associated with the burning of garbage and resins; and other byproducts from the pulping process.

"The current permit relies on the ocean water to dilute the low-oxygen wastewater to healthy oxygen levels," Stauffer said. "That's why DEQ needs to make sure that seasonal hypoxia -- dead zones -- is incorporated into analyses that establish discharge limits."

Stauffer said his group is not claiming the mill is causing the dead zone, but wants to make sure that its wastewater is not making the problem worse.

Schnurbusch said the compounds released in the discharge tend to be low in toxicity and many of the chemicals used are recycled at the mill.

"People have this impression that a pulp mill is going to be discharging toxics at high levels and that is going to kill off the aquatic community," he said. "We are just not seeing that."

Nonetheless, a plume of dark water around the outfall pipe sometimes visible from the air and the bluffs near Nye Beach is doing little to reassure locals that the discharge is harmless.

"It's not toxic," said Franz Cosenza, technical manager of the mill. Rather, the discoloration is a result of the mill's conscientious water use and the presence of lignin, a natural polymer found in wood, he said.

"This Georgia-Pacific mill is a very water-efficient user," Cosenza said. "As a result, our volume of water relative to the tons produced of paper is very low. Because of the low volume and the presence of lignin, it's just less dilution for that lignin and gives it the darker appearance."

Cosenza said company officials won't know what effectchanges to the permit -- if there are any -- might have on the mill until they know what those changes might be.

"We've been looking at it to understand what the petition is all about," he said. "We are obviously in compliance with the permit as it is now."

Lori Tobias: 541-265-9394; loritobias@aol.com

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