Tag Archives: Pollution

Forging a Coherent Oceans Policy


Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care

Excerpts;

The White House on July 19th, announced that it was forming a new National Ocean Council to try to make sense of the dozens of laws and overlapping agencies governing policy on oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes. The new body, which will include 24 officials from various federal agencies, will not have the power to propose new laws or regulations. Rather it will set broad policy goals and try to referee between conflicting commercial and recreational uses of the nation’s aquatic resources.

Read Full Article, The New York Times.

After Gulf oil spill, Obama plans better use of oceans, CSM
Long after the last oil seeps from the BP spill, the eco-disaster in the Gulf is bound to change the way Americans take responsibility for the oceans. President Obama made a start July 19th, by ordering 22 agencies with ocean responsibilities to become better stewards of the marine environment.
In particular, he endorsed the idea of zoning the nation’s coastal seas and Great Lakes, or the roping off of areas for such diverse uses as sport fishing, oil drilling, shipping, and underwater parks.

White House-Council On Environmental Quality
The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force.

Stunningly High Levels of Toxins Found in Whales


Photo source: ©© Angieandsteeve

Excerpts;

Sperm whales feeding even in the most remote reaches of Earth’s oceans have built up stunningly high levels of toxic and heavy metals, according to American scientists who say the findings spell danger not only for marine life but for the millions of humans who depend on seafood.

A report released Thursday noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years. From polar areas to equatorial waters, the whales ingested pollutants that may have been produced by humans thousands of miles away, the researchers said…

Read Full Article; By Arthur Max, The Associated Press.

Hands Across The Sand

sand-hand-print
Photo source: ©© Syedasif

Excerpts;

All across America, from St. Petersburg, Florida to Cannon Beach, Oregon, from Santa Cruz, California to Coney Island, New York, tens of thousands of people yesterday came together at ocean beaches and inland waterways to form a human barrier against offshore oil drilling in a nationwide protest called Hands Across the Sand.

But what started as a U.S. protest quickly went global. Hands Across the Sand drew people to 820 sites in 34 countries, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa…

Read Full Article: :World Joins “Hands Across the Sand” to Protest Offshore Oil Drilling; ThoughtCo.

A Line in the Sand Over Offshore Drilling, New York Times

Hands Across The Sand

France’s continued fight against toxic algae

Algues vertes

Algues vertes : les coûts de ramassage explosent

By Marion Brunet, Le Figaro

Original Article

Green Algae: the exploding costs of collection
Google English Translation
The green algae are back on the front of the stage. Beyond their potential danger it is, this time, the costs of collection and treatment that are implicated. In a note published last Friday, the Brittany Regional Chamber of Auditors reported that these expenditures have doubled over the past three years.

The proliferation of green algae is favored by the presence of nitrate in soils, which are linked to intensive farming and agricultural fertilizers.

Brittany represents 7% of the French arable land and farms 50% of France’s pigs and poultry.

The costs of collection and processing of green algae for Brittany Region, have increased from 345,063 to more than 800,000 euros between 2007 and 2009. The volumes have picked up from 27,150 to over 60,500 m3. Not to mention the national anti-algae plan introduced last February by the Government, which should also lead, in the coming years, to an increase in spending with its requirement for systematic collection of green algae, and treatment in controlled stations.

400,000 euros in 2009 to 1,400,000 this year
This information was confirmed by the urban community, Trégor-Lannion (Côtes d’Armor), which has already collected 7,000 tons of green algae on its beaches since early May. “The collection is carried seven days a week, including weekends and holidays. We do not want to take any risk on our beaches, “said the urban community President, Joel Le Jeune. While last year we have picked up 26,000 tons, we believe that we will reach 35,000 tons this year. This will inevitably result in increased costs of collection and reprocessing.”

It is reported that 400,000 euros were spent last year, and spending could rise up to 1.4 million euros in 2010.
As in previous years, expenditures include the collection of the “sea lettuce” (Green Algae), and from now, as required by the Government’s plan, they will include the cost of processing green algae in sewage.

The Government is committed through its national plan, to allocate Brittany’s Region a budget of 700,000 euros for the collection and processing of “sea lettuce”. However, this figure is well below the 1.4 million euros that the scourge could cost to Lannion-Trégor and region. “That is not enough” given the number of municipalities affected by green algae.

Legal proceedings contemplated against the State
Faced with this pollution, the urban community-Lannion Trégor, has no other recourse but prosecuting the State.

“At the Department of Ecology, we recognize that costs will increase, as pickups need to increase. We are not against the principle of co-financing”, says a collaborator of Minister Jean-Louis Borloo. But we will obtain the Region Executive to draw, by the end of the year, the balance sheet to see if there is indeed a cost overruns.” Status quo then. The town of Lannion-Trégor has until July 15 to prosecute.

Original Article, CTV

The Government’s Plan

Video, Les Algues Vertes, Thalassa

Plastiki: Restocking in Samoa


British adventurer David de Rothschild spoke about his adventure sailing as the captain of the Plastiki Eco-Expedition. The Plastiki is a boat made entirely out of plastic bottles. The expedition set sail from San Francisco on March 20 2010 and arrived in Sydney on July 26 2010. Captions and Photo source: ©© Kris Krug

Excerpts;

The crew of the Plastiki remain in Samoa resupplying the boat and preparing for their final leg to Australia.

Wayward winds had pushed Plastiki towards the island nation instead of the intended destination of Fiji.

The crew have now traveled 5,483 nautical miles and made landfall on Samoa on May 25, just two weeks after leaving Christmas Island.

The final leg of the voyage is expected to take around 40 days…

Read Full Article, CNN

State of emergency is declared as US oil slick nears the coast

Oil Spill

From The Times by Jacqui Goddard in the Gulf of Mexico, Tim Reid in Washington and Frank Pope, Oceans Correspondent

The massive oil spill pouring from a ruptured rig in the Gulf of Mexico has reached the coast of Louisiana, threatening an environmental catastrophe in the region.

The first fingers of oily sheen reached the mouth of the Mississippi River on Thursday evening local time, 24 hours ahead of previous estimates by the US Coast Guard

As the sun began to set over the fragile wetlands surrounding the Mississippi, the oil was slipping into the South Pass of the river and already lapping at the shoreline in long black lines.

Although US government agencies and BP set up 100,000 feet of booms to protect coastal areas from the slick, rough seas sent five foot waves of oily water over the top of the booms into the river.

The slick is on its way to becoming Americas’s worst environmental disaster in decades, endandering hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife in one of the world’s richest marine environments.

Even before the spill neared the coast, wildlife experts said a toxic mix of chemicals was poisoning the waters of endangered marine life and fisheries, including one of only two breeding grounds world-wide for Atlantic bluefin tuna.

“It is of grave concern,” said David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling.”

Fear turned to fury among local residents as BP, which has leased the Deepwater Horizon rig from owner and operator Transocean, stood accused of playing down the scale of disaster after as it emerged that five times more oil was surging into the Gulf from the seabed than had been calculated previously.

There is a growing sense among the fishermen and tourist guides dependent on the wetlands for their livelihood that the Government has once more failed them, just as it did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

President Obama was briefed on the disaster and ordered Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary, and Ken Salazar, the Interior Secretary, down to the Gulf Coast today.

Mr Obama said: “While BP is ultimately responsible for funding the cost of response and clean-up operations, my administration will continue to use every single available resource at our disposal, including potentially the Department of Defence, to address the incident.”

The operation now involves 1,100 people and more than 70 vessels. Last night, the Governor of Louisiana declared a state of emergency.

Cade Thomas, a fishing guide in Venice, said he was terrified that his livelihood will be destroyed. He said he did not know whether to blame the Coast Guard, the federal government or BP.

“They lied to us. They came out and said it was leaking 1,000 barrels when I think they knew it was more. And they weren’t proactive,’ said Mr Thomas. “As soon as it blew up, they should have started wrapping it with booms.”

US experts are now fearful that it could take weeks, or even months, to shut off the ruptured pipe — yesterday a third leak was discovered — meaning that within two months the spill would surpass the 11 million gallons that leaked from the Exxon Valdez tanker in the notorious spillage off the Alaska coast in 1989, America’s previous worst oil disaster.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency on Thursday so officials could begin preparing for the oil’s impact. He said at least 10 wildlife management areas and refuges in his state and neighboring Mississippi are in the oil plume’s path.

The 100-mile by 45-mile slick also threatens the Alabama coast.

It also emerged yesterday that the oil rig did not have a remote-controlled shut-off switch used in other oil-producing nations, such as Norway and Brazil, which could have closed down the well after the explosion.

The device, known as an acoustic switch, is not required under US law, but the lack of one added to questions about BP’s operation of the Deepwater Horizon. It exploded 50 miles off the Louisiana coast on April 20. The cause of the blast, which killed 11 of the 111 workers on board and set the rig ablaze before it eventually sank, has yet to be determined.

Mr Suttles said that Deepwater Horizon was equipped with other safety devices that should have prevented this type of spill, in which the oil is coming out of fractures on a severed pipe connected to the wellhead, 5,000ft below the surface.

Dozens of vessels were trying to contain the spill, using a variety of methods. Crews triggered a series of controlled fires to burn off the thickest parts of the slick, while booms, skimmers and chemical dispersants were trying to stop the rest from reaching shore. Heavy seas, forecast to last into next week, are hampering the operation.

BP was due to start drilling a new “relief” well that would allow them to stop the flow from the seabed, although officials said that it would take at least two months to complete.

A separate effort was also under way to try to place a dome on the ruptured wellhead but that, too, could take weeks.

BP has also tried, unsuccessfully, to close the wellhead using submersible robots.

More than 400 species are threatened by the oil, including wading birds and sea otters. The Gulf’s abundant oyster and shrimping grounds are also in danger of severe damage.

Marine and coastal life from the smallest plankton to the resident sperm whales will all be affected, experts say. Valuable fisheries for oyster and menhaden fish are at risk, as is the breeding of endangered turtles and bluefin tuna.

If the slick spreads, the rare manatees of the Florida panhandle could be under threat.

Much depends on where the slick ends up and the success of the efforts to contain it.

If it is taken by the Gulf’s defining current, which is known as the Loop, the oil may also reach the Florida Keys and endanger the region’s coral and resident marine populations.

The type of oil leaking from the sea floor is complicating matters. It is called sweet crude, which contains heavy compounds, known as asphaltenes, that do not burn easily or evaporate, even on the warm Louisiana coast.

With light crude, both burning and chemical dispersants work well, but neither tactic is very effective against sweet crude, raising fears that nothing can be done to stop the oil reaching shore.

Ocean Pollution and Ocean Polluters

By Bekah Barlow

Did you know that it’s legal to dump trash in the ocean? Yes, there are limitations for what you can and cannot dump. But it is perfectly acceptable to dump your raw sewage, paper, rags, glass, metal, bottles, or similar refuse, as long as you are at least 12 miles away from the nearest shoreline. It is not permissible to dump plastics anywhere.

Learn the regulations are for proper garbage disposal at sea.

Just how long will your trash last at sea?

Paper towel 2-4 weeks
Orange or banana peel 2-5 weeks
Newspaper 6 weeks
Apple core 2 months
Waxed milk carton 3 months
Plywood 1-3 years
Wool sock 1-5 years
Cigarette filter 1-50 years
Plastic Bag (at least) 10-20 years
Plastic film canister 20-30 years
Nylon Fabric 30-40 years
Leather 50 years
Tin can 50 years
Foamed plastic cup 50 years
Rubber boat sole 50-80 years
Foamed plastic buoy 80 years
Aluminum can 80-200 years
Disposable diapers 450 years
Plastic beverage bottles 450 years
Monofilament fishing line 600 years
Glass Bottle 1,000,000 years

* Quoted in U.S National Park Service; Mote Marine Lab, FL and “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” Audobon Magazine, Spt/Oct 1998.  from “Pocket Guide to Marine Debris,” The Ocean Conservancy, 2004

When it comes to cruise ships, this trash can add up. An average-sized cruise ship would house 3,000 passengers and crew. The largest cruise ships can have up to 5,000 passengers and crew. Of these cruise ships:

  • One average-sized cruise ship dumps about 30,000 gallons of human waste into the oceans each day. If that cruise ship is within three miles of a U.S. shoreline, the sewage must be treated, but if they are outside of three miles, they can dump raw, untreated sewage into the oceans.
  • In addition to the 30,000 gallons of sewage, each cruise ship dumps, on average, 255,000 gallons of gray water per day. Gray water includes water used for showers, laundry services, and dishwashing, and will contain soap and chemicals, even toxic chemicals used for photo-processing and dry-cleaning!
  • An average cruise ship will produce seven tons of garbage and solid waste every day! In a year, approximately 15 billion pounds of garbage is dumped into the oceans.
  • The pollution produced by the emissions of one cruise ship in one day equals that of about 12,000 automobiles.

Wave of Toxic Green Beaches, France; By Sharlene Pilkey

Saint-Michel-en-Greve, Brittany, France

A Wave of Toxic Green Beaches, Saint-Michel-en- Greve, Brittany, France

By Sharlene Pilkey

With beaches and coastlines all over the world already under attack from sea level rise, pollution, mining, driving, seawall construction and human development encroachment, another menace is mounting an assault. Humans are behind this one too. According to various media reports in France, and the United Kingdom, lethal green algae has invaded heavily used vacation beaches in Brittany, northern France and along England’s coastline from Wales to Portsmouth. Layering in deep piles, up to a meter thick with hard crusting on top, these stinking masses are ticking gas bombs.

Vincent Petit, a 27-year-old veterinarian, was riding horseback on a Brittany beach near Saint-Michel-en-Greve, when his horse broke through the crust and went down. A cloud of hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) was released from the rotting algae, reportedly killing the horse within 30 seconds. Fortunately a tractor was nearby which was used to clear away algae and drag Mr. Petit to safety. He was rescued in an unconscious state and hospitalized. Now he is suing the local municipality responsible for beach maintenance.

On June 22, 2009 on the Cotes d’Armor, a 48 year old maintenance worker, clearing the green algae from the beach, was stricken and died apparently from a heart attack, but in recent medical reports the lethal green algae is suspected in his death.

This lethal algae on the French Coast was apparently a product of over fertilization of nearby fields with drainage emptying into the ocean. Towns along the Brittany coastline have hired bulldozers to scrape the seaweed away, but the algae keeps right on coming back.

Earlier, on a beach close to where Mr.Petit’s horse died, two dogs strolling by were killed by the sulfur dioxide. In a strange coincidence indicating the global nature of this problem, the death of two dogs running on an algae encrusted beach was recently reported from north of Auckland, New Zealand, not to mention the four dogs killed in 2009 by toxic beach algae near Elkton, Oregon.

The more one learns about this beach hazard, the more apparent its global scope becomes. Last year, the Chinese government brought in the Army to clear away the slimy green growths so the Olympic sailing competition could be held and so observers could safely view the event. In Italy, near Genoa, a sixty year old man had to be taken to the hospital this year because he swam in algae infested water, and last year in Genoa, more than 200 people were sent to hospital after swimming in the algae or inhaling toxins carried to the beach by the wind. This summer, officials in Massachusetts put out a toxic beach algae warning but did not close the beaches. It’s a problem for fresh water lakes as well.

Some are attributing the algae outbreaks to global warming. Although this may indeed be a factor as our seas warm up, it is clear that excess nitrate rich fertilizers, along with animal wastes and poorly treated or untreated sewage, are the main villains.

The problem is deeper than just hazards to humans. When a beach is covered with algae virtually everything that lives on and within the beach is killed while access is denied to nesting and to food for local birds, fish, sea turtles and various crustaceans. Thus, an entire beach/nearshore ecosystem that includes microscopic organisms (meiofauna) living between sand grains at the bottom of the food chain up to sharks cruising offshore, is wiped out. Simultaneously oxygen is usually depleted in nearshore waters, a threat to marine mammals and sea birds.

Politicians at a high level are finally beginning to pay attention to this problem. After all, beaches are a critical part of the economy of most coastal regions. The French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, announced that the “state would take over the responsibility for cleaning the beaches most affected.” He is also creating an interdepartmental committee to fight proliferation of the green algae and to protect the population and beaches. In other countries local municipalities or health organizations are trying to cope. The problem is of course, the coastal communities themselves did not usually create the toxic situation. At fault is the agribusiness along the coast and nearby rivers using fertilizers to boost production of food.

Hot weather, warm water, fertilized farms near rivers running into the sea are the problem, which disappears with the arrival of fall and winter. Unfortunately, it is always summer somewhere on our planet, and the problem flows from the land to the sea. With over 70 beaches in Northern France In trouble, as is the English coastline from Cardiff Bay to Portsmouth Harbor, coastlines worldwide are under attack. We wonder if this could be the toxic green wave of the future for developed coasts.

France Related Green Algae Resources

China Related Green Algae Resources

General Green Algae Pollution Information

French Official Report